School leader at Maumee Valley ready for a change

Phineas Anderson has been head of Maumee Valley Country Day School for 11 years. He has visited nearly 100 countries and keeps many of the artifacts he has collected in his office.
Phineas Anderson has been head of Maumee Valley Country Day School for 11 years. He has visited nearly 100 countries and keeps many of the artifacts he has collected in his office.

Getting sent to the school office is usually an unpleasant experience in a drab room, but for any of the 470 students at Maumee Valley Country Day School, it's more of a museum experience.

Head of school Phineas Anderson leans way back on his office chair's two hind legs and points to some of the artifacts he's collected. Among them are the jaws from a great white shark, a bear skull, wooden statues from Africa, swords, blankets, and medals from all over the world.

But soon the treasure-trove, which students can spend an hour enjoying, will be gone.

After 11 years leading the private South Toledo school, Mr. Anderson said it's time for a change.

"When I first came here, what struck me - because I have traveled and I first view myself as American and then as a world citizen - I was very impressed with the fact that there are 26 different racial, ethnic groups here, and that one out of three students is a student of color," he said. "I was searching for diversity, and this place had more diversity than I think any public school here or any Catholic school here."

The school leader has visited nearly 100 countries. One of his trips included backpacking for 16 months in Japan and New Guinea.

Mr. Anderson often used his world experiences to educate children.

"I have been traveling since I was 17, and because I have been an educator all my life, I've collected things," he said. "Those things then become the basis of trying to educate the kids and teach them different perspectives, a sense of tolerance, and appreciation for what other people can do."

After teaching at the University of Lucknow in India for two years with the Peace Corps, Mr. Anderson returned to the United States in 1966 and became a curriculum specialist in North Carolina.

During the early 1970s, after receiving a master's degree from Harvard University, he was hired as the principal of a private school in New York City.

Even with all his accomplishments and experiences, Mr. Anderson said being hired at Maumee Valley was a blessing.

He said presumptions about the prekindergarten-through-high school institution - that it is only for the elite - are wrong.

More than $600,000 in financial aid was awarded during the 2003-2004 school year, he noted.

The school's younger students have been honoring their headmaster with essays that chronicle some of the impressive or outlandish things he's done over the last decade.

Nick Frasco, 11, said he wrote about Mr. Anderson's office and an incentive he once offered during a fund-raising campaign.

"When we met our goals for money, he promised to shave his legs, and we all thought that was pretty funny," Nick said.

Mr. Anderson said he's proud of the accomplishments made at Maumee Valley over the last 11 years.

The school raised $9.6 million during its last capital improvement campaign to pay for 10 projects that have transformed the look of the campus. There was a major revision of the middle school building, a new performing arts theater, clock tower, weight room, and roadway leading to Glendale Avenue.

The endowment was also increased from $3.9 million to $8.6 million through a combination of market appreciation and donations.

After leaving the school on June 30, Mr. Anderson, 63, plans to take six months doing projects at home.

Next year, he will take over as president of the Toledo Rotary and focus his efforts on the prevention of nuclear terrorism.

"I think it is one of the greatest underestimated threats facing this nation," Mr. Anderson said.

Hiram Goza, who spent 12 years as head of school at the Episcopal School of Acadiana in Lafayette, La., has been appointed to take over at Maumee Valley. He will be the 10th head of school.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: or 419-724-6171.