Mrs. M. Crist Fleming founded The American School in Switzerland as the first American boarding school in Europe. Her idea was to transplant the American independent school tradition into the culturally and historically rich garden of Europe. Since then, TASIS has flourished, providing leadership in international education and opening additional schools and summer programs in England, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, France, Spain, and Puerto Rico.
Through their TASIS education, more than 25,000 young people from dozens of nations have learned respect for other people, races, and cultures; for past and current endeavors in the arts and sciences; and for themselves as moral and responsible individuals. Mrs. Fleming often said, “Times change, values don’t.” The values TASIS has always taught and stood for are based on the intellectual virtues of Culture (humanitas), Wisdom (sapientia), Knowledge (scientia), and Truth (veritas).
In 1983, Mrs. Fleming was honored by the US 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 that had “introduced thousands of Americans to European culture and civilization” and many foreign students to “the best that America has to offer in its education, culture, and opportunities.”
Much of what makes TASIS distinctive results from the entrepreneurial style of Mrs. Fleming, whose ability to see and seize opportunities and to respond to needs with alacrity is legendary. Thanks to her, TASIS enjoys a culture that encourages and rewards initiative and creativity. In addition to individual initiative and creativity, this culture demands flexibility, patience, a positive attitude, and perseverance.
From its founding in 1956 to her passing in 2009, Mrs. Fleming cited TASIS as the fulfillment of her dreams and encouraged students to follow their own—to dream big enough and bold enough to lead a life of consequence and make the world “a better place in small and large ways for all the humans who inhabit it.” Her spirit is very much alive in TASIS today.
Mrs. Fleming’s vision has continued through the development of the TASIS Foundation, a Swiss non-profit educational foundation designed to perpetuate the values and ideals of TASIS well into the 21st century. Her daughter, Lynn Fleming Aeschliman '63, served nearly a decade as Executive Director and is currently the Chairman of the School’s Board of Directors.
In Pursuit of Excellence
Read about the history of TASIS in the book In Pursuit of Excellence, available for purchase.