As Founder and Director Emerita of The American School in Switzerland, and TASIS The American School in England, Mrs. M. Crist Fleming was dedicated to the education of young Americans and other nationals in Europe for over fifty years. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. Miller Crist, founders and directors of the Mary Lyon School and Wildcliff Junior College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, Mrs. Fleming graduated from Radcliffe College, Harvard University, where she studied French language and literature. She was the Assistant Director of Mary Lyon from 1933 to 1943. In 1944 she established Frog Hollow Country Day School in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, which she directed until 1955.
In the fall of 1956, Mrs. Fleming founded The American School in Switzerland, TASIS, as an experiment in international education designed to give students thorough preparation for American colleges and universities, with the additional dimension of exposure to cultures and training in languages other than their own. TASIS now stands as one of the finest American/international boarding schools abroad. Mrs. Fleming also founded TASIS The American School in England in 1976 and extensive summer programs in Switzerland, England, France, and Puerto Rico.
In 1983, Mrs. Fleming was honored by the U.S. Secretary of Education for her "significant efforts and tremendous contributions towards the furtherance of education at the international level." He especially recognized the TASIS Schools which had "introduced thousands of Americans to European cultures and civilizations" and many foreign students to "the best that America has to offer in its education, culture, and opportunities."
Excerpts from An American in Ticino, 1996 by Elizabeth Stocker-McLane
"I was not quite sure what to expect when given the opportunity to meet the founder of The American School in Switzerland (TASIS). I had only heard that 85 year-old Mary Crist Fleming was a powerhouse and a trail blazer in American education abroad.
I was not disappointed. Mrs. Fleming was the most youthful octogenarian I had ever encountered and could surely keep pace with any of the young students in her care. And it is most likely her vision of providing quality education that has kept this woman so youthful and dynamic."