By MJ Breton, Middle School Dean of Student Affairs
When I first met Mrs. Fleming, I was 20 years old, teaching French and Drama in the summer program. In those years she shaped me in ways that are still relevant to my life.
There is so much to say about this wonderful lady; I would need at least a few days to share all of her stories and make you understand how much impact she had on my life, how much she affected so many children and adults, and indeed how much she influenced me as an educator and as a person.
Mrs. Fleming was a very funny woman; she had such joie de vivre. But alongside that, she cared deeply for everyone in her life. All of us who knew her occupied a little place in her heart, as did everyone who is here now, living out her dream of a future for the School she cared about so much.
Every time I saw her, she would smile at me, greet me, then, engage in an honest conversation. She was curious about me, my family, about my thoughts, my dreams. If I was confused, she would encourage me with her words, give me advice, support me, make me think about my choices and reflect on the results. Above all though, she trusted me and believed in me.
She believed in the potential of her faculty, that we could all make a difference in the lives of children by teaching subjects, but also teaching the importance of life values. For Mrs. Fleming, the true essence of life was related to values such as compassion, love, happiness, respect, honesty, self-discipline, and courage. She believed that beauty, education, and leadership did not mean much at all if these values were misplaced.
She believed in flexibility, tolerance, and understanding. She believed that to make a difference in the world, we need to be engaged and work together.
Mrs. Fleming found ways to push me to my limits; she made me work hard to achieve my goals, and helped me develop my character. She made me realize that trying new things and making mistakes is not such a bad thing. By falling down, we gain self-confidence and became stronger people.
For her, the impossible didn’t exist. She seized every opportunity that came her way. As engraved on her tombstone: "her vision and loving spirit lifted the hearts and minds of generations".
Dear students, Mrs. Fleming has created this incredible place for you. Please take a moment to realize that, and learn from whom she was, and from what she has offered to you. It is your duty to continue her legacy, and make a difference in the world.
Thank you, Mrs. Fleming, for starting such a wonderful school, and thanks to her daughter, Lynn Aeschliman, for continuing her dreams.
Mrs. Fleming remains eternal in the hearts of all.
Every year in early September, our community gathers together to remember and celebrate the life of our Founder, Mary Crist Fleming. Events include a special assembly showcasing images and videos of Mrs. Fleming, along with personal anecdotes from longstanding members of our community. The speech above was given by Middle School Dean of Student Affairs MJ Breton, who knew Mrs. Fleming for over two decades.
Visit our 2014 Founder's Day Celebration gallery for photographs and video of this special day.