Stanley Bosworth, Founder of Saint Ann’s School, Dies at 83

Stanley Bosworth, founding headmaster of Saint Ann’s School, in a photo taken during his last year as headmaster. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Led School for Four Decades

By Mary Frost

BROOKLYN — Stanley Bosworth, the founding headmaster of Saint Ann’s School and its visionary and charismatic leader for four decades, died at his home on Aug. 7, several weeks before his 84th birthday.

Peter Darrow, president of the board of trustees of Saint Ann’s, and Vincent Tompkins, head of school, said in a letter sent to parents and the school community that a private family funeral will be held this week. A public memorial service will be planned for a later date.

In their letter, Darrow and Tompkins wrote, “Saint Ann’s School would not exist were it not for Stanley Bosworth. Once called to leadership by Canon Harcourt, Stanley gave the fledgling school his life, his spirit and his extraordinary vision; and he continued to do so long after school and church amicably parted ways.” In 1982, Saint Ann’s School formally disaffiliated from the Saint Ann’s church.

“Stanley loved children,” their letter continues, “and he created a school like no other, built on the foundation of that simple emotion. Thousands of students, past and present, are the direct beneficiaries of his intelligence, passion and commitment. All of us who are members of the community he created mourn his passing, express our gratitude for what he created, and extend our sympathies to his family and many friends.”

Saint Ann’s as a Dream School

Unconventional and flamboyant — his controversial comments were mixed in with expositions in ancient Greek and in later years could be absolute doozies — Stanley Bosworth created Saint Ann’s as a dream school: a place where talented students would learn for the sake of the learning, without the pressure of grades. Saint Ann’s became famous for its educational richness and developed a reputation as a hotbed of artistic expression and individualism.

According to Saint Ann’s official history, Bosworth insisted from the beginning that the curriculum range over all the major “symbolic languages of the culture,” instead of just words and numbers. Actors, painters and musicians were hired, helping Saint Ann’s to gain its reputation as an “art school” and a “theater school.” Bosworth established an “extraordinary social atmosphere in which so many seemingly antagonistic sets of values coexist.”

When the school moved to the 129 Pierrepont St. building in 1966, the atmosphere remained that of “a one-room schoolhouse expanding over 13 floors, a one-man show with a highly calibrated staff of over one hundred, and an amusement park in which the amusements were Aristophanes, Darwin and Baudelaire.”

Bosworth’s final year as headmaster was the 2003-2004 academic year. A student who attended Saint Ann’s in Bosworth’s later years told the Brooklyn Eagle, “Listening to his speech about how he got the idea for Saint Ann’s, I realized he really did believe in the idea of the school.” In 2004, The Wall Street Journal published the results of a survey rating Saint Ann’s the number one high school in the country for having the highest percentage of graduates go on to enroll in Ivy League and other selective colleges.

In the spring of 2007, the main building at 12 Pierrepont St. was dedicated to him and named The Bosworth Building.

Stanley was succeeded as head of school by Dr. Larry Weiss. Saint Ann’s present headmaster, Dr. Vincent Tompkins, succeeded Dr. Weiss.

More about the life of Stanley Bosworth will follow in the Brooklyn Eagle.

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Filed under Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn People, Community News, Obituaries

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