A Fine, Fine Headmaster
A Fine, Fine Headmaster Tributes to Lyle D. Rigg
Lyle Rigg: An Introductory Remembrance Lyle Rigg came to TASIS England in the fall of 1979 as Assistant Headmaster, Head of Residence, and teacher of History. Three years later, he was asked by Mrs. Fleming to come to TASIS to serve as Headmaster. Accompanying him to Lugano was his new wife, Sharon, who had also come to TASIS England in 1979. In the fall of 1984, he returned to TASIS England as Headmaster, a role he fulfilled with distinction until 1998. He was Headmaster at the Pennington School in Princeton, NJ, until he retired in 2006. Mrs. Fleming asked him to come out of retirement and serve as the Interim Headmaster at TASIS for the 2007-08 school year, and this became something of a pattern. He left retirement again for the 2009-2010 school year to serve as Interim Headmaster at TASIS England, and he did this yet again (for the last time!) to be the Interim Headmaster at TASIS for the past two years, 2015-17. In 2012, the Upper School library at TASIS England was renamed the Lyle Rigg Upper School Library.
When C.S. Lewis moved from Oxford to Cambridge University late in his career as a professor of English literature, he gave an inaugural address in which he compared himself to a dinosaur. Lewis cheerfully acknowledged that he was on the wrong side of a great historical divide, but he encouraged his new colleagues at Cambridge to take advantage of this unusual situation. “Use your specimens while you can,” he said. “There are not going to be many more dinosaurs.”
says, rushes about “in appetency on its metalled ways.” Lyle’s world is full of clear, quiet, eternal landmarks that all of us who have known him will never forget. There is Defiance, Ohio, of course, the most famous town in America that none of us have ever been to. In speeches and in meetings, Lyle frequently mentioned his hometown, where, in my imagination, the sun is always shining through the back door; where the local Defiance newspaper is tossed every day onto the wooden front porch by bicycle-riding boys; and where Lyle’s aging father taught him about what really matters in life.
Now I am not likening Lyle Rigg to a dinosaur or any other thundering beast. But I do think that we have had a wonderful, if not unique, privilege to work with a colleague whose values and outlook seem to speak eloquently of another world than ours, which, as the poet
There is Gracie’s Diner in Mayville, New York, where Lyle would meet the local townsfolk. Breakfast has 2
seldom sounded tastier, and people have seldom seemed funnier or wiser than in Lyle’s descriptions of Gracie’s Diner. It was a sad day when Lyle announced at a faculty orientation meeting one year that Gracie’s Diner had closed down. It is still there in Mayville in my creative memory, as I am sure it is in Lyle’s. More recently we have heard about the lake in Camden, Maine, where Lyle would row his boat every morning and think about how much he loved retirement.
and historical importance, and even the suitability of the sound: Go TASIS Turkeys! Yes, Lyle is a remarkable man, but it might come as a surprise when we realize just how little we really know of him. His private life is closely guarded. We know who his favorite author is—Sharon Creech, of course!—and we know which historical figure is most important to him— George Washington—but what else are we sure of? Do we know if he has a particular religious allegiance, do we know where he stands on the political spectrum, do we know what kind of music and art he likes? We may all have variously well-educated guesses, but we really do not know for sure because Lyle, despite his friendly and outgoing public persona, is actually a very private person.
But the real reason why Lyle has been so wonderfully unusual to work with is his old-fashioned sense of courtesy, civility, and loyalty, along with his irrepressible sense of humor. Lyle has always been a consensus-building leader whose default attitude towards his colleagues is one of deep respect and genuine interest. Everyone, from Board member to faculty member to part-time cleaner, has felt sincerely appreciated by Lyle. There never has been the slightest shadow of pretense or play-acting in his friendship and good manners.
And surely it is best that way. Lyle’s public values of courtesy, civility, and loyalty, his delightful sense of humor, and his unforgettable stories—these all “maketh the man,” to quote from the TASIS Paideia. For us, that is enough. Dame Helen Gardner’s tribute to C.S. Lewis seems fitting as we honor Lyle Rigg’s final days at TASIS: “We are all his pupils, and we shall not look upon his like again.”
Lyle’s loyalty to his co-workers is legendary. I remember how shocked he was when at an end-of-year meeting in Capitignano, a new, young TASIS administrator engineered the involuntary departure of a long-serving assistant who was, in truth, probably no longer adding much value to the bottom line. “But that is not how you treat people!” Lyle said to me. I am sure that the business managers at the schools where Lyle has worked have been continually frustrated by his reluctance to let people go once he begins to believe in them.
And no one who has spent any time with Lyle can have failed to enjoy his whimsically comical wit. I like to remember a speech he gave at the TASIS England Thanksgiving Banquet in 1979, when the school was just three years old. His theme was the choice of a mascot for the young school, and his proposal was the Turkey. In typical fashion and with deadpan earnestness, Lyle recounted the turkey’s character virtues, its economic 3
The Greatest in History As the Chairman who once again asked Lyle Rigg to return to TASIS in an emergency, I wrote about him and his two-year tenure at TASIS to the School and Foundation Boards in my recent reports to them. Once again, I wrote, “He has accomplished invaluable improvements at TASIS in achieving his goals, even though, in his usual modesty, he says this could have been accomplished ‘no matter who had been serving as Headmaster.’” Not true! We should all be deeply grateful for Lyle’s putting the school in the strongest position possible to pass on to our new Headmaster, Christopher Nikoloff. Once again
in a TASIS school, Lyle has left an indelible model of what great professional Headmastering is: in this regard he is the greatest figure in the history of the TASIS schools and is, in some respects, unique and irreplaceable. I am very pleased he will be joining the TASIS England Board as a Patron. My husband Michael and I are not only deeply grateful to Lyle but honored to have him and Sharon as long-time, close personal friends.
Lynn and Michael Aeschliman
A Tribute to Lyle As Lyle’s distinguished educational career comes to an end, it is impossible to adequately pay him the tribute he deserves, for he has made a deep impact on TASIS as an institution and on the thousands of students, faculty, staff, and colleagues who have had the good fortune and honor to work with him in his capacity as Headmaster. I am blessed to count myself among them, and perhaps for the longest time of anyone other than Sharon, I have been deeply influenced and enriched by having shared in his good work ever since he arrived at TASIS England in 1981.
loving husband, a caring father, a valuable colleague, and an exemplary boss: Lyle always seems to think of others. His thoughtful handwritten messages were appreciated by all those who received them, and there were many. His ability to reassure others in their time of need and bring out the best in them makes Lyle a natural leader. In the outstanding management book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, the author confirms through his exhaustive research that the two most important traits of a successful leader are integrity and humility. Lyle personifies these characteristics and exemplifies the TASIS values of civility, honesty, respect, perseverance, and responsibility. More than anyone at TASIS, Lyle embodies Mrs. Fleming’s vision and the School’s mission. He has left a legacy at TASIS that others will try to emulate, and his long and successful career at TASIS leaves an indelible mark of goodness and excellence on TASIS.
During all those years, I do not recall a single person who does not have a kind word to say about Lyle. This is a rare achievement in a demanding role that often required tough decisions when it would have been easy to oblige rather than hold the line. But Lyle always seems to find the right words or communicate the right feeling to make others feel respected and appreciated even if he did not agree with them. His speeches are legendary and his sense of humor a powerful tool that defused potential problems while building a sense of community. Hard work, uncompromising ideals, patience, persistence, and above all the ability to not take himself too seriously despite his enormous success made Lyle both loved and respected in equal measures.
There has not ever been nor will there ever be another Head of School at TASIS like Lyle. Fortunately we will continue to benefit from his wisdom as a Board Director at TASIS England. I know we will be a better school for it, and all those who know him will feel uplifted by his presence.
Lyle is the consummate gentleman: generous of spirit and always finding the good in others, even when they may not have deserved it. A loyal friend, a
With much admiration and gratitude, Fernando and Kristina Gonzalez
The Master Headmaster If you were to measure Lyle’s tenure at TASIS by his impact or reputation, you would think he had been with us for decades. It is hard to believe that prior to his return in 2015, Lyle was only on the Lugano campus as Headmaster for a brief stint in the ’80s and then again for a year as interim. In that brief time, Lyle set the gold standard for leadership, and he remains the reference point for administrative decisions: “How would Lyle handle that?” Whatever he would do, he was even and steady, impeccably dressed, never impatient or rushed; Lyle is the calm in the midst of the storm. Most of
all, Lyle appreciated and supported people, and he reassured his colleagues through the various crises of school life. No wonder he has so many fans! Now, after what he says will be his last retirement, these words ring truer than ever, with the exception that Lyle will never think of his time at TASIS as a “brief stint.” Nothing about the past two years could be described by our Master Headmaster as brief! We all appreciate the personal sacrifices Lyle made to serve TASIS once again and are grateful for all he has accomplished. Bill Eichner
Arrivederci For me it has been a pleasure to work with Lyle on all of the occasions when we have been fortunate enough to have him as Headmaster. I met Lyle in 1982 when he was first Headmaster at TASIS, and I have been here each time he has returned as interim Headmaster, sighing with relief that he was returning to restore some calm and would use his good sense to get TASIS back on track. Lyleâ€™s knowledge of TASIS and respect within the institution are something that makes him an important person to have around, and I sighed
again when I heard that he will be a member of the Board in the coming years. It has been a pleasure working with Lyle due to his dedication to education, his honesty, his willingness to listen, and his pragmatism. I wish him a wellearned rest between his future trips to TASIS to help us continue the project of which he has been such a valuable part for so many years. So, it is not goodbye Lyle, but arrivederci... Howard Stickley
The Perfect Mentor Lyle has played such an important role in my many years at TASIS England, where he was my Headmaster from 1989-94 and 2009-10. I was also lucky enough to work under him in Lugano in my early years at TASIS, enjoying his wisdom and leadership as I started my career in Montagnola. At the same time, Sharon’s boarding team meetings in their home on Via Poporino and getting to know Karin and Rob Leuthy remain highlights of that first contact with the Riggs. Lyle moved to England five years before I did, and in 1989 he was brave enough to offer me a college counseling position when I was looking for a job in the UK, at a time when I had no real experience in that job. In my mind, I was a French teacher, but that day I took a deep breath and said “yes” to his offer. Once I had accepted, he then proceeded to let me know how important and sensitive a position it was! I decided that I could not let him down, so I learned as much as I could before the school year started, and off I went.
think. Last June (2016), I was overjoyed when I heard that he was to be our graduation speaker, as I knew that once again, I would be able to appreciate and enjoy Lyle’s presence and listen to his wise words. He has been a source of real support, advice and strength.
Looking back, I know that it is thanks to Lyle’s trust in me as a professional that I have had the chance to grow and develop in a variety of capacities in my long career with TASIS. He has always been a kind and sensitive leader, an incredibly supportive mentor, and a man who emulates excellence in everything he does. He is the best!
On a personal front, Lyle has been an inspiration to me. He has touched my life both professionally and personally, and I believe that thanks to my years of working with Lyle, I am a better person and educator, and I am most grateful that my husband and son have also come to know him. Thank you, Lyle, for all that you have given to TASIS and to my family.
I also feel lucky to have attended many faculty banquets, as Lyle opened the TASIS England school year with updates from Gracie’s Diner in upstate New York and regaled us with speeches that made us both laugh and
Swallow a Toad
On my desks in both Lugano and Durham, I have kept a small ceramic toad—a gift from Lyle and a daily reminder to heed his advice: “Swallow a toad in the morning and nothing worse will happen for the rest of your day.” One of many touchstones Lyle has shared with me, this (both object and idea) nicely illustrates some of the magical paradoxes of Lyle’s leadership. He is at once humble and inspiring, kind yet courageous, amiable but strong. His ardent sense of duty to Mrs. Fleming’s vision has made him a most noble steward and guardian of TASIS (and the most intermittent retiree in the history of headmastering). Lyle has swallowed innumerable toads for all of us, for the schools we love, and for the students we nurture. I wish him all the happiness he deserves—along with the knowledge that his example of generous, thoughtful, humane leadership will resonate for generations to come. Michael Ulku-Steiner
Our Fellow Camper
Although I haven’t known Lyle temporally as long as many others, I feel I know him well—and to know him is to respect him as a consummate professional, a kind and gentle human being, a great listener, and a wise and highly moral leader who can draw on decades of experience. As a retired teacher and administrator myself and as a current TASIS Board Member, I recognize in him a true schoolman. Indeed, I’ll let you
in on a little secret: my nickname for Lyle is “fellow camper.” The reason for the “fellow” part is because he has experience in the trenches with the rest of us. He knows viscerally and not just theoretically what it means to be in the classroom challenging and supporting young people (our raison d’être as a school), what it means to interact with parents (and Board members!), and what it means to sensitively balance individual faculty and personale concerns with the welfare of the school as a whole. I call him “camper” because he has helped out TASIS numerous times. In a sense, he has “camped out” on multiple occasions on the campuses of both Thorpe and Lugano to help our schools resolve various problems and in so doing has made each “campsite” a better and more attractive venue. Indeed, he has been deeply committed to every spot where he has camped because he loves education, which is simply another way of saying that he responds positively to challenges and adventure. Sometimes the terrain is rough and the challenges strenuous, but in the end there is the deep satisfaction that comes with knowing that one has successfully engaged in a worthy endeavor. Lyle, all of us thank you for being our fellow camper—and we thank Sharon for being willing to share you with TASIS! Good luck as you transition to a different phase of your “retirement,” but do keep an ear open just in case the call for further camping should arise. Berkley Latimer
In addition, Lyle maintains a balanced sense of humor. He enjoys the absurdity and comedy that often arise from common situations, and even more so when the situation involves serious intent and planned decorum. This helps keep Lyle grounded in a healthy realism while he pursues ideal goals. Both of these talents were on display in 2008, when Mrs. Fleming was 97. She wanted to go out and eat at the Bellavista in Montagnola. Lyle and I loaded Mrs. Fleming into a school van (the only available transport) and sat with her on the terrace of the restaurant. In spite of her advanced age, Mrs. Fleming was in full flower. She talked to and about everyone on the terrace and reveled in the social outing. The inherent grandeur of a dinner with Mrs. Fleming was amplified by seeing the personal pleasure she had in getting away from campus one more time. The pleasant setting and company were all the more enjoyable after wrangling Mrs. Fleming into a school van (when was the last time that had happened?) and trying to keep the wonderfully forthright woman from commenting, clearly, on each patron on the terrace. Our barely constrained laughter/embarrassment only seemed to enliven Mrs. Fleming more. Lyle could see the specific joy Mrs. Fleming felt, and he also saw the futile hilarity of trying to constrain her whirlwind personality. It was an odd but wonderful evening.
One of a Kind
Lyle is most certainly a master practitioner in independent and international school leadership. Many of his personal attributes and professional skills demonstrate those talents. In my experience with Lyle, two factors always stand out. While dealing with the overwhelming complexities of school leadership, he never loses the ability to see and appreciate the individual and human dimensions of a situation. He has a fine sense of the impact schools have on people, and how the grand ideas of education play out for each member of the community. He can see the Big Picture and advance the Big Idea while understanding the feelings and concerns of the individuals within the community.
Lyle is one of a kind. He brings a great deal to all his relationships and all the schools he leads. I am grateful to count him as a friend. John Nelson
to those at the memorial ceremony for Azer Yagubov ’12, such a poignant occasion. How much I marvel at the l-o-n-g and individually appropriate comments he writes in everyone’s Christmas card.
It seems as though Lyle possesses a “Magic Wand.” Wherever he turns his attention, all problems seem to disappear and everything becomes better and more beautiful. Lyle makes everything look easy. His way of approaching issues and problems is reassuring and seems almost effortless, yet it is very effective and productive. Lyle is an inspiration to all members of the TASIS community, from students to teachers, administrators, and Board members. The warmth of his eyes and his comforting expression immediately reassures and sets minds and hearts at ease. Lyle embodies all the characteristics of the “perfect” Headmaster: a mentor, a caring father, a role model, a dedicated professional. He is always available for everyone, ready to listen with genuine care and empathy. All that has been mentioned is not enough to describe Lyle—he is much more than words can express. We are very grateful to have had him guide us with grace through not-always-easy times in a firm but always kind manner. We will miss him tremendously.
I personally have benefited from Lyle’s gentle concern and constant support over the past two years and know that the whole community feels this way. Lyle is a TASIS treasure! After a lifetime with TASIS and Mrs. Fleming, and shortly after her death, he proposed, and edited, the Wit and Wisdom book when he first went into retirement. Wit and Wisdom is a fitting comment on Lyle himself. Yvonne Procyk
Sara Rosso Cipolini
With and Wisdom of Lyle Rigg
I have been fretting over this tribute for longer than I care to admit. How on earth can I do justice to Lyle, and my delight in working with him, yet keep it short(ish) and focused? Throwing caution aside, I want to say how much I enjoy working with Lyle. How much I appreciate his dedication to TASIS combined with realism (seeing the woods AND the trees). How much I admire his perfectly judged remarks, from the witty ones at someone’s farewell send-off from TASIS
The Little Things In life it is often the little things that make a big difference.
the time out of his incredibly busy and challenging day to stop for a moment and ask how you are, despite the pace of school life around him. Lyle is a wonderful Headmaster, but he is also a wonderful man. He takes the time to make everyone—faculty, staff, students—feel valued, time which is so precious from a man so very busy. And at a critical time in TASIS history, he has helped make faculty, staff, and students feel more connected with the spirit of the School and Mrs. Fleming.
Like when someone says “hello” every time he sees you, or anyone else. When someone acknowledges a special action you’ve done, no matter how small. When someone thanks you for organizing an event or dealing with a particularly tricky situation. When you receive a card commending your role in a project that took hundreds of hours. Or when someone takes
Lyle made us want to be better at our jobs because he believed in us. When your leader trusts you to make the right decision, it helps your confidence. His encouraging, inspiring words during assemblies, speeches, and discussions help make all of us better educators and people. And his sense of humor! It keeps people going; even on stressful days he finds a way to make people laugh. He creates a positive, cheerful environment that is contagious. And for some of us non-Americans, Lyle introduced us to his “lucky charm,” George Washington. From socks to statues, dollar bills to quotations, even touching the nose of the Washington bust on Lyle’s desk for luck, we will remember it all. And not just because he shared this luck with us by giving his admin team dollar bills as end-of-year presents! MJ Breton and Guia Berera
The Ultimate Professional
Until the Next Time
As high as my expectations were for working with such an experienced and respected leader as you, the reality of these past two years has even been far greater. Your kindness and concern for all; your timely, open, and honest communications; your strong support of all employees; your wonderful sense of humor; and your incredible modesty while leading TASIS made it an honor and joy to work with youâ€Śand play with you. Remember your cameo appearance in the 2015 Movember video?
Lyle, when you first corresponded with Carroll and me in the spring of 2010 about potential college counseling opportunities at TASIS England, I was immediately impressed with your professionalism, honesty, and sincerity. So, when I learned five years later that I would have the opportunity to work with you at TASIS, it was a very happy day indeed.
Lyle, It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you for these past two years. Your kindness, consideration, thoughtfulness, and steadfastness have been much appreciated and valued. I wish you and Sharon a happy and relaxing well-deserved retirement. I hope our paths will cross againâ€” perhaps at a Miami University reunion!
Best wishes to you and Sharon. May you enjoy your wonderful home and life in Maine, but I do hope you might return to beautiful Lugano often as a fully retired Headmaster. You have an open invitation every May 1 to continue as the official starter for the Beat the Bells run! I will always think of you on my runs along the lake when I pass the bust of Giorgio Washington. Again, what an honor and pleasure it has been to work with you. Go Redhawks! Greg Birk
One Egg and a Piece of Toast I will never forget my first meeting with Lyle. My husband Frazier and I flew out to Camden, Maine, for our interview with the man who was going to leave his retirement to return to serve as TASIS’s Headmaster for the next two academic years in Lugano, Switzerland. After Frazier and I had spent a few summers at TASIS teaching with the Performing Arts Team, we too were possibly moving to Lugano—to teach Theater and Dance. After flying into Camden, we met Lyle and his lovely wife Sharon, had a delicious dinner, and quite naturally enjoyed our conversation. There was much excitement and possibility in the air, questions, and a bit of confusion as to exactly what our roles would look like as we fit into this community and into the TASIS Theater program. After pondering, questioning, and conversing, the dinner ended with a second meeting scheduled for the following morning at Lyle’s favorite breakfast spot, Marriner’s Restaurant. At Marriner’s, Frazier and I ordered the restaurant’s famous blueberry pancakes, and Lyle ordered his “regular” morning order, one egg and one piece of toast. He said his morning routine of starting his day by picking up a newspaper across the street and carrying it over to Marriner’s to enjoy his egg and toast seemed to be his idea of heaven (other than canoeing). Throughout this meal as well, Lyle had a way of being curious and giving in his conversation as we considered if this next move was the right one for our lives. I will never forget leaving that meeting with our Academic Year contracts in hand, feeling extreme peace about Frazier and me moving from New York City to Lugano to embark on a new adventure. These two short meetings gave me confidence that we would be in good
hands, under the care and wisdom of someone who can appreciate the simple things in life, start each day with his idea of heaven, and contribute to his community in a generous and meaningful way. To come and serve and lead as TASIS’s Headmaster for the past two years, Lyle had to find a new idea of “heaven.” He was not spending his time canoeing or at Marriner’s, but I hope he knows that each lovely handwritten thank-you card he wrote after a performance, his kind and gentle manner with us each time we passed in De Nobili, and his humor and care gave us all a little bit of heaven while he was the Headmaster here at TASIS. Lyle, we will not forget the sacrifices you took to be with us here. I will not forget how you found a way to lead with intention and care, even in small ways, from George Washington socks to buying two pairs of pants for the Dans of the school when FAC met their goal to writing moving and thoughtful speeches with vision and purpose for each school function, where you always spoke with purpose and care. We will miss your gentle, thoughtful, and positive leadership. You have left a mark on my heart that reminds me how to be a good leader and educator who deeply cares about those around me. I hope that egg and toast tastes even more heavenly as you arrive back in Camden. We will surely keep what you shared with us in our hearts and share it with others, so we can hopefully keep making this school feel like a little piece of heaven for whomever passes through here or calls this home. Julie Frazier-Smith
A First Impression
by Sharon. The children were quite impressed—first by a signed book but mostly by Lyle’s very thoughtful gesture. My son asked if he could be a boarding student. He thought it sounded glamorous and that he could get away from his family for a while. Lyle’s reply impressed me. It wasn’t a typical “administrative response.” He said, “Why don’t you try boarding one weekend and then ask a boarding student to stay with you and your family. Let me know what you think after this.” He was right. My son decided that boarding had its merits but that going home every night was a much better deal!
I first met Lyle at the Northern Iowa job fair in 2008. I had just accepted a job at TASIS and was feeling a mix of apprehension, excitement, and exhaustion from the long weekend. Lyle invited me to chat with him after I’d signed my contract, and he asked questions about my family, background, and experiences. He was a caring, calm presence in a hectic environment. He sent me out the door with a box of Lindt chocolates for my parents and left me with such a positive impression of TASIS and confidence that I’d made the right decision.
Theresa Cullen Hill
I’ll never forget the warmth Lyle showed toward me even though he was not continuing as Headmaster. When he returned for an additional interim in 2015, I felt the same encouraging and calming presence from Lyle. With a lot of administrative upheaval and turnover, many were feeling negative and on edge. Lyle’s positive (yet realistic) perspective soothed a lot of anxiety and ensured us that we were in good hands.
A Profound Thank You
Lyle, you will forever be in the hearts and minds of the Angelitti men!! I was honored when you made me part of this terrific team of professionals at TASIS for the first time in 2008-09. Then during this past 2016-17 Academic Year, you once again provided me with the opportunity to be a proud member of this institution. Not only that but you brought into the TASIS family a second Angelitti (Thomas), with whom I have shared an amazing and unique experience. As a dad I am ever so grateful, and I extend to you a profound “thank you.” As a professional I feel you have once again demonstrated, if I may say so, your excellence in decision-making along with your keen sense for hiring quality people and competent professionals!!! I wish you, your wife, and your whole family nothing but the very best that life after TASIS has to offer. You have proven yourself to be an incredible human being and a true professional. Sincere wishes. Grazie mille!!! T&T
Thank you, Lyle, for being not just a good Headmaster, but a good person. Your character has left an impact on TASIS in a big way. Enjoy retirement! Sarah Grove Locke
A Measured Response
I first met Lyle at a noisy American chain restaurant, TGI Fridays. He was driving from Maine to North Carolina and stopped to see us in Maryland (halfway between). I was just named the new Elementary Head, and Lyle was just named the new interim Head of TASIS Lugano. My children and husband joined me. Lyle brought each child a Sharon Creech book signed
appeared unexpectedly around every twist and turn. “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” Dorothy would never have survived and found her way had it not been for the presence of her faithful companions. As a person and as a Headmaster, you are the living embodiment of the Lion’s courage, the Tinman’s heart of compassion, and the Scarecrow’s wisdom. I can’t imagine how I would have traversed this passage the past two years without your support. And so, I say goodbye to you with all of the respect, gratitude, and tenderness that Dorothy expressed to her companions at the conclusion of their journey together. I know that your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is your family back home in Maine, a little fishing boat on a lake, and a simple breakfast of coffee, egg, and toast at a local café. You have been a gift to this community, Lyle, and will be dearly missed. I wish you well.
Your Pot of Gold
As a child my all-time favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz. I suppose it was because it took you on a roller-coaster ride of adventure and emotions and then delivered you safely back home to comfort and love at the end. It was also wonderful music and a spectacular production. I remember looking forward to watching it every year when it aired on television. As a young adult, I came to appreciate the symbolism it used to communicate a deeper meaning: how easily you can lose your way and end up in an unfamiliar and frightening place; the pursuit of what is most important in life; the obstacles that must be overcome; the realization that the power to shape our lives is always within us; and the importance of camaraderie in traveling the path. Unlike the fiery and fraudulent Oz, who created an aura of importance and hid behind the trappings of an illusion, your leadership has been one of walking the (yellow brick) road together, encountering the perils and pitfalls that
Lisa Crandell It has been the greatest pleasure for me to work with you these past two years. You have been an inspiration to me, and I will miss you terribly. On the first day I met you, your smile and kind words made me feel at ease. You believed in me, encouraged me, and inspired me to do my best. I will forever remember working with you as the best two years at TASIS. I will continue to be dedicated to TASIS, remembering your love and dedication to this wonderful place we work. I will also miss our morning car duty together and our laughters. You will be very hard to replace, and I will never forget you. Buon viaggio caro Lyle! Enjoy your retirement! Eleonora Pinton
A Measured Leader
A n U nrivalled Leader
It has been such a pleasure and inspiration for me to get to know you and work with you. The way you have tackled the many challenges while staying calm, collected, and focused on the task in hand has taught me a lot about management skills that I will try to bring with me. Lastly I want to express my appreciation for you being such a strong supporter of the GSP program and my role as board member.
Lyle, your time with us has been a great gift. We are all so very grateful not only for your Headmasterly know-how but also, and especially, for your kindness, your warmth, your wit, and your smile. Gandhi once said, “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles, but today it means getting along with people,” and in that regard as well as so many others, you are unrivalled. For all these reasons, and many more, we will miss you dearly.
I wish you all the best as you now enter a life in retirement, but I trust that will not mean you will be idle. I will picture you out on your boat trips.
A L oyal
Honest L eader
It has been a pleasure sharing my time with you and learning some tools to use during my daily duties. You have expressed full loyalty, honesty, and commitment during all your days at TASIS— and with such an unforgettable humor that we will miss a lot.
Jan Opsahl ’68
Together with my family, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and wish you many years of a relaxing life that you have definitely earned after such a long and busy career. Luca Ugolotti
Lyle D. R igg
Leading Your Last Expedition (Definitively) Rebuilding Intention and Goodwill with Grace
The Art of Listening
Thank you for taking on the incredible responsibility of being the TASIS Headmaster. Your kind eyes, sense of humor, guidance, and honesty will be missed. Best wishes on the next chapter of your life!
We all know Lyle is wise. But what’s really nifty about spending time with Lyle is that one feels wiser afterwards. And, I believe, sometimes, one is.
Kerry V Venchus
There is the first impression, a profoundly experienced educator and leader, knowledgeable, attentive, and humbly in charge. Then there is the moment where his listening makes you pay attention. Followed by the humor and compassion that sparkles back, always. And of course, the thoughtful and flawless answers. Lyle’s life compass, his understanding of what is fundamentally important, especially as a Headmaster, is inspiring. Thank you, Lyle, for lending TASIS your guiding hand. Alexandra Heumann Wicki ’80
A True Pleasure
You made it! Congratulations on another retirement =). If you’re asked to come out of retirement again, give me a call and I will help remind you why you shouldn’t listen to any pleas to return, no matter how desperate. Not because you haven’t done a fantastic job, but because you deserve to RELAX, have your diner breakfast every day, kayak whenever you feel like it, and enjoy downtime with Sharon. You’ve earned those things and so much more! It has been a true pleasure working with you these past two years, both as a faculty member and as a FAC member. I am grateful for all the support you have shown in both areas. In fact, I have admired your genuine care and support for all of us at TASIS, from the students to the personale to the faculty, staff, parents, and Board members. What big shoes you have left to fill!
To My Third, 10th, and 13th TASIS Headmaster
You always join us in a period of crisis and leave us with a calm and stable school. I don’t suppose you’ll allow yourself to be convinced to do a fourth tour, so I hope we don’t have any more crises, as I don’t know where else we can turn! Best wishes for a fulfilling and well-earned retirement: be it with the library or your granddaughter’s farm. Perhaps you and Sharon will even take off on an adventure or two: who knows? Paul Greenwood
A Gentle Spirit With a Firm Hand at the Rudder
I will never forget Lyle speaking of his planning for the year ahead in his boat on the lake. This metaphor of calm, quiet determination for me personifies his leadership and the character of his tenure as Headmaster of TASIS this year. He is the kindest Headmaster I have known. One vignette that comes to mind is the time my car died on a hill in the middle of traffic and it took four police officers to rescue me while others were honking at me. The next day, there was a lovely card in my pigeon-hole in the Staff Lounge telling me to “Touch Wood” for luck and consoling me as I struggled to overcome the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” It included a tiny ball of wood that I carry to this day in my pencil case, and it will stay with me for the remainder of my career: a tiny memento of TASIS, as well as our wonderful Head, Lyle Rigg. Fare thee well! As the Celts say: Slange Var! May you have good health! Rhoda Yates
Always the Right Words
I have only known Lyle for the time that he has served as TASIS’ Headmaster, but I have learned much from the man. What struck me in his opening address to the school, and what strikes me today, is the way that Lyle seems to find maximally appropriate words for every occasion. Whether addressing a problem with students, paying tribute to a faculty member, or describing a challenge to be overcome, Lyle always seems to formulate a response that assuages anxieties, inspires confidence, or clarifies problems. What impresses me most are the ways in which empathy and perceptiveness inform Lyle’s uncanny success in communicating ideas that matter to a human being and to a community. Chris Love
How to Say Goodbye?
How can we say “goodbye” to the most generous, funny, loyal, and just HEADMASTER to serve TASIS, not to mention the most dedicated man who keeps coming back for more! We will all miss you, Lyle! Wendy Kessel
A Master Sailor
Finishing the Elephant
Whenever I think about you, I picture a small boat on a lake (you might have said Maine, but I think it was actually in Switzerland). During assemblies you would portray this boat as a peaceful and safe way to navigate the waters of school and life, encouraging students and teachers to take hold of the oars and move strongly through those waters. Strangely, I always pictured this boat rocking from side-to-side, with water splashing in over the bow, barely staying afloat. I saw you as Headmaster in this TASIS boat, keeping the breakers of students, teachers, and administrators from overwhelming it with your calm, secure, and positive attitude. For leading with competence and calm, for understanding unfathomable teenagers, for putting faith in teachers and keeping faith with them, and for keeping the TASIS boat steady: thank you, Lyle.
I was living in Maine when I was hired, and Lynn suggested that I get in touch with, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Our dear Lyle, who has agreed to come out of retirement again to save our school—and just so happens to live in Camden.” I met Lyle for lunch a few weeks later, and I dare say Lynn undersold him. Between then and the time I started, I heard it had been a rough spring of 2015 and that morale was low. I didn’t know what to expect upon starting August 1, getting a feel for the summer program, and waiting for everyone else to arrive. People shuffled in by degrees, and we eventually gathered in the Palmer Center for an All-Faculty meeting in late August. With no real understanding of the strain many had felt the previous spring, I could feel the room swing in Lyle’s favor and understood that he had restored morale in one speech. This would be the first of many brilliant deliveries.
Thank you, Lyle, for always helping us put things in perspective, and thank you for treating my family as if it were your own. We still marvel at the kindness you extended to Stephanie’s mother when she came with us initially—and how you greeted her like an old friend when she returned a year later. You’re winding down now, and you appear to be saving your best for last. The Final High School Assembly: how classy to pave the way for your successor. The Senior Banquet: they won’t forget how to swallow a toad or eat an elephant. And I can only imagine what pearls of wisdom you’ll leave us with today—moments before you receive this small token of our appreciation. Mark Chevalier
A Caring Leader
A Smile for Everyone
We can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for us and for the community at TASIS. It has truly been a pleasure to have you as our Headmaster for the last two years. Your thoughtfulness and caring attitude is contagious, and your approach to leadership is an example for both students and faculty. Dinners and social gatherings will not be the same without your heartfelt, humorous, and inspiring speeches. We’ll also miss the thoughtful notes, thanking us for our efforts in our work, and the casual chats with you at lunch or in the faculty lounge, which always brighten our day. We wish you and Sharon all the best and hope you enjoy your return to life in Maine! May your mornings be full of delicious breakfasts and newspapers at your favorite diner, and may your lunches be full of ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise.
I will miss your genuine smile and your respectfulness— the hallmarks of your wonderful character. Your ability to listen, along with your willingness to find a solution to whatever was brought to your attention, is a great virtue that we only find in a few. Your strong leadership, tenacity, and ability to make good decisions are all very inspiring. I wish you a well-deserved retirement with your family. I just wish that you stayed here at TASIS for a bit longer! Prash Sinnathamby
A Healthy Campus
From our first “itchy” conversation about scabies and head lice to the humorous gifts of chocolate-covered bugs and dammit dolls and our aperitivi at Casa Eichner, we knew we would be working under a great Headmaster. Your continued support and recognition of our endeavors to keep TASIS healthy are and always have been greatly appreciated. You’re the best. We will miss you!
Brendan and Cori Shea
The Definition of a Headmaster
Lyle is a Headmaster in the best and classic sense of the word. He and I arrived at TASIS at the same time; he from a lifetime of experience, I as a beginner. I will be eternally grateful for Lyle for taking a chance on someone entirely new to the world of international schools and TASIS in particular. His devotion to duty in the widest sense, his care for everyone involved with the school, and his always friendly, paternal presence and availability are models of excellence. He not only looks like the archetypal oldschool Headmaster, he is one and more, because he leads without compulsion and guides without any superior airs. I cannot begin to imagine his workload and efforts on behalf of this school. Thank you for all your help and support and above all for being you.
Adele McLeod and Nancy Loiselle
Lessons for Life
A Card for All Occasions
Lyle has been a mentor unlike any other during his short time here (this stint). Lyle has taught me compassion, temperance, and perseverance simply by being who he is. He truly believes in the goodness of people and brings that out in everyone he interacts with. His passion for the work and his dedication to a TASIS education is unmatched. I will carry the lessons I have learned from him always.
Among the things I admire about Lyle are his attention to detail, his thoughtfulness, and his compassion. A perfectly timed note or hand chosen card from him is sure to brighten your day. The gesture is small but the impact great. O-H-I-O Emily McKee
I wish him a quiet and comfortable life in retirement (once again). KC McKee
From a Cabbage
The care and sensitivity with which Lyle engaged in a conversation, delivered a speech, or penned a personal note is something I will always remember and endeavor to emulate. The epitome of professionalism, tiptoeing through his tasks as Headmaster with aplomb, Lyle was always gracious and generous with his appreciation of what we all do here. It has been a pleasure to serve as an employee, twice, under his interim tenures. I will be thinking of you, Lyle, in your quiet canoe, gliding along, with not a meeting or cocktail event to attend in sight. Sending you my very best wishes for a long and uninterrupted retirement. Michelle Arslanian
Lifeâ€™s Like a Box of Fortune Cookies
Wishing you and Sharon all future happiness and good fortune that you may find in 1000 boxes of fortune cookies, and more! It has been an enormous honor and privilege working with you, and you will be greatly missed. I treasure all your lovely thank you cards and messages and want to thank YOU for all your kindness, support, and guidance these past two years. Samantha Forrest
Your kind words in meetings and in passing consistently remind me of the positive spirit I love about TASIS. I am sad to be saying goodbye to you, but I wish you all the best in this next step in life. Melody Tibbits Zanecchia
Believe me, Lyle: I cannot thank you by words alone. You have always been so kind and generous to me that I will never forget. It was really our good luck that you came to be the head of our school. In these times it is ordinarily not possible to have at the head of institutions a person with a broad outlook on life and a sense of duty. You always took a real interest in the welfare of students and teachers and especially in supporting our Food and Beverage Department. All these generosities when recalled make the idea of parting with you very painful. I therefore write this to express my heartfelt thanks to you, who I have known for two wonderful years. I wish you all the best, and may good will be on your side for the years to come. Fabio Marrone
A Force of Light
You have been such a force of light, humor, and positive change here at TASIS these past few years. I am glad to have been here during this time we had the honor of enjoying your last few years of headship before you relax into long-awaited retirement. I couldnâ€™t be more grateful for the encouragement you have continually sent me and shown me. Your complimentary notes of thanks after Elementary School assemblies and concerts have blessed me and made me feel supported and valued.
Kayak with Coffee
I will be back to work in late August, and I will look out of the Şahenk Center toward the mountains. I will again be thankful to be able to work at such a dynamic school in a beautiful place. I will, however, think of you with your coffee in your kayak in the middle of the lake amidst only the sounds and sights of the quiet morning. I will think of you going to the diner where they know what you want without having to order. While I know you are never going to completely retire, I also know that you will enjoy all the more the pace of life at home. Please keep with you our great appreciation and thanks for the very difficult work you took on and the great dignity and humility you restored to the post of TASIS Headmaster. Frank Long
Knowing you is truly a blessing, and you have made a tremendously positive impact on our lives. We are so deeply appreciative of your wisdom, guidance, kindness, and thoughtfulness. Thank you for all that you have done, and above all, thank you for providing an example of what a person should aspire to be. We hope to see you in Maine! Mark, Kate, and Ella Abisi
Lucky to Have Known You
Lyle, we want to congratulate you on returning to your retirement. We feel fortunate that you chose to step out of retirement for two years and return to TASIS. We benefited from your leadership, wisdom, and humorous anecdotes. We appreciate your understanding of how easy it is to get caught up in the work—like the Principal
in A Fine, Fine School—and how you understand the importance of taking the time to be grateful for the little things in life. We will fondly remember your kind leadership style, as you always put people first even when difficult decisions need to be made. Enjoy Maine, Sharon, your children, and your grandchildren. We hope you have lots of time to smell the roses! Tim and Erin Fitzgerald
A Fine, Fine Gentleman
To a fine, fine Headmaster who also happens to be a fine, fine Gentleman! It has been my pleasure to work with you these past two years and for your interim year in 2007-08. Our shared love of Peeps, our two granddaughters, and our two grandsons are just a few favorite memories I will always cherish. I wish you all the best in your well-deserved “final” retirement, and I will think of you often on your favorite lake while I bask in my own retirement. Ann Haldy
Exemplary Dedication to TASIS
A Lasting Impact
Lyle’s exemplary dedication to TASIS serves as an inspiration to us all. I feel fortunate to have shared some time with Lyle at TASIS Lugano and sincerely appreciate his natural leadership ability, warm demeanor, and steadfast character.
Lyle, the numerous years you’ve given to TASIS have made a lasting impact on our school. But what I will most remember about you is your passion for tea parties and all the kind notes you’ve written after attending numerous Elementary School events. Also, your work at TASIS allowed my favorite childhood book to be written: Bloomability. Thank you indirectly for that. I wish you lots of good coffee and relaxing moments at your favorite diner in Maine during your retirement!
Rick Bell PG ’65
It has been a pleasure to know you—during several interim years and beyond...I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with you. Your dedication to the TASIS schools is not likely to ever get surpassed! I wish you a “real” retirement with many happy, healthy years ahead of you.
Labor of Love
Thank you for all the effort and love you have put into your work here at TASIS. I have only known you since the beginning of last year, but I can say I have looked up to you as a great example of hard work, balance, and good spirit. I wish you the best.
Your Hiding Spot
Lyle, it was such a pleasure to know you. I must say that any time you spoke at an event, my interest was always piqued. I could listen to you speak for hours. I wonder if Sharon feels the same?!! I will miss our weekly meetings—the opportune time, which you truly deserved, to hide away. Lol. All the best in your future adventures, and I wish you great health and much happiness in this last and hopefully permanent retirement. Lyn Paquin
In 2007, after a pipe burst in my apartment and caused me some small problems, Lyle offered to pay for a dinner out at a restaurant of my choosing. This was as gracious as it was unexpected, and I decided to invite Kat, who was my girlfriend at the time, to accompany me. It was a wonderful evening, and shortly thereafter we were married. So, thank you, Lyle. Who knows, if it were not for that magical evening, I might not now have my loving wife and two wonderful boys.
Thank you, Lyle, not only for your hard work and dedication to TASIS, but also for your positive attitude and sense of humor through it all. Perri Sartorelli
A Big Hug
It’s been a real pleasure to get to know you and a privilege to have you as a Headmaster. You have always had kind words for everyone at the right moment. I will miss your cards, your sense of humor, your speeches, your hugs and...your George Washington socks.
A Dream Come True
Lyle, despite only knowing you for one quick year I am so grateful for the opportunity you have given me to work at a school I have dreamed about since I was a middle schooler reading Bloomability and imagining myself immersed in the beautiful setting your wife had so wonderfully written about. It always makes my day to see your smiling face and hear your kind words, something I truly admire about you. I wish you all the best, and if I remember correctly from your speech at our Welcome Banquet, I hope you enjoy some time sipping coffee on your kayak and relaxing!
I have no doubt you’ll enjoy your “final” retirement, and I’m hoping that “final” does not have the usual TASIS connotation, as it does for the calendar! I wish you all the best in this exciting new phase of your life. A big hug. Sara Soncina
One More Time
All the best for your final (hopefully :) or maybe...) retirement. It was great to get to know you and work with you. You are a truly positive and joyful person. Thank you! Have fun on your little boat, and I hope to see you again one day. Leah Prada
A Well-deserved Retirement
Wishing you all the best for your retirement. Iâ€™m sure that you will enjoy it! However, to help you cope with missing the finance meetings too much, we can arrange to have them filmed so that you can enjoy them after having breakfast at your favourite spot. But seriously, enjoy your well-earned retirement. It has been a pleasure to have worked with you, and I have always appreciated your sense of humour. Have fun on the lake and with your family. Alec Ogilvie
A Good Cappuccino
Thank you for bringing children into Casa Fleming. Thank you for your example of warmth and courtesy, curiosity, and appreciation. But most of all thank you for liking a good cappuccino! Jessica Surer
Words of Wisdom
Thank you, Lyle, for the words of wisdom and support you have shown me. It has been a pleasure to work for you. I hope you enjoy those early morning canoeing trips on the lake. Tom Lill
Grace and Wisdom
I would like to thank Lyle for listening to us, and more importantly for guiding us in fulfilling our lives and being better teachers. I wish him a wonderful retirement.
Lyle, thank you so much for devoting so much time, patience, and, above all, love to TASIS. We feel very privileged for getting to know you, and we wish you all the possible best for your future adventures. Your grace and gentle wisdom will not be forgotten.
Marco and Lorenza Ornaghi
Our Thoughtful Guide
35 Years later
On December 17, 1982, you and Sharon hosted a wonderful Christmas party for the faculty at Casa Lavagetti. This is where we met for the very first time. You know, GOOD THINGS happen when you’re around!
Thank you, Lyle, for being the nice human being that you are. That makes you the best Headmaster ever! Lucia Soravia
Fighting the Chaos
Mark and Simone Aeschliman
In Mrs. Fleming’s Yearbook message of 2003, she begins with why she started the TASIS schools. Mrs. Fleming believed that the best hope of defeating chaos was education. I want to thank Lyle for fighting the chaos; he has devoted his life to education. Lyle has saved the day at TASIS more than once, and I am truly grateful for this. I am proud to call him a colleague and a friend.
Paz y serenidad
En momentos de Tormenta nos trajiste Paz y serenidad! We shall always remember you as the person who brought us peace and serenity twice, as the person who always smiled at us, as the person who made us feel at ease. All these great memories and feelings will remain in our hearts!
Melissa Rendeiro Eichner
Wishing you and Sharon the best in your future. However, I will be waiting for you again in case, who knows, you decide to return. Nilda Lucchini
A Fine, Fine School
You’ve run a very fine, fine school, Mr. Rigg. And we are all thankful! :) Natalie Philpot
You are a kind person, Lyle—the grandpa that everybody would like to have. We will miss you. Ciao. Fabrizio De Gregorio
Caring About Everyone
It has been such a pleasure working with you. You are kind, funny, compassionate, and extremely efficient. You care about faculty and staff and make us feel important. We know we can always come to you if we have any concerns. I will miss you! Sissi Cavadini-Stolz
Our Second Journey
I feel so fortunate that I began my TASIS career with you back in 2007 and that I have been here for your return. What fabulous news it was to hear that you were coming back! You create a wonderful sense of community for your faculty. I will always think of you whenever I take the time to lie down in the grass and look up at the clouds in the sky. I hope that you do this often during your new retirement! I wish you all the best. Allie Vassalli
Guidance and Support
Your guidance and support have been amazing. You are an inspiration! Thank you. Gigí Diane Guarnieri Rosso
Time to Relax
It was a pleasure to have you back at TASIS and to work with you. I wish you all the best for a more relaxing future! Geraldine Caussette
Headmaster for a day!
Thank You and Good Luck!
It’s been a pleasure to work with you, and I wish you all the best for your retirement. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work at TASIS, which has been a fantastic experience. I wish you good health, peace, and happiness. Simone Meister
Your Friends in the Business Office
Saremmo voluti esserci negli anni ’80 e ci sarebbe piaciuto averti come Head Master fino al 2050! Ci siamo affezionati molto a te, ti vogliamo bene. Adesso è ora che ti goda la tua famiglia, anche se ci mancherai. The Business Office team: Fabiola, Francesca, Francesco, Giulia, Grazia, Luca, Manuela, and Silvano
More than a Fix
Our Paths will Cross Again
You came here twice, and in both times you had to fix a delicate situation. I think you did much more than this, as by being the Headmaster of TASIS in Lugano you also brought back some peace, a less frantic rhythm in our campus life, and a seed of honesty and frankness in dealing with your people. And you did all this with a gentle and kind humour. I am grateful to know you. Mi mancherai e ti auguro ogni bene.
Lyle, our paths have crossed a few times over the past years, and though I didnâ€™t have the opportunity the first time to get to know you that well, your presence provided a calm and thoughtful space for both the faculty and students to work from. This time we have spent much more time together, often dealing with serious issues, and it has again been reassuring to work with a person who is considerate and patient and values human interaction. I know that you and Sharon are deserving of some fun and sun, so enjoy. As with all things TASIS, I am sure our paths will continue to cross.
Hard Work and Cooperation
The IT Office would like to express our gratitude for your hard work and cooperation with our department. Your willingness to listen to us, as simple as it may sound, has truly made a difference to us. It has been a pleasure working with you and having you as a leader. We wish you all the best for the future.
Lyle, thank you for breathing life back into our fine, fine school. We will miss you!