Dean Mary Frances England “would be elated” to know Culver Girls Academy now numbers more than 350 – and that many of these students are the daughters of Culver alumni.
Carolyn Kline, the keynote speaker at the Dean England Day ceremony Sunday evening, said “Mai-Fan” would be extremely pleased with the strength of CGA and the number of daughters – and sons – of Culver alumni now attending school.
Kline knew Dean England better than most. Both spent most their lives in Culver. They taught together at Culver Community High School before coming over to the Academies and Kline also taught English and later served as the Dean of Girls.
Kline is also the mother of Chris Kline `82 (leadership instructor and the director of sustainability) and Jennifer Morgan ’84 and grandmother of Maeve `14, Frank `15, Patrick `17 and Nora `19, who introduced her.
England was placed in charge of establishing the Culver Academy for Girls and using the prefect system as the leadership model. While the Culver board had already approved admitting girls, England still faced much “anxiety and disapproval” among the male faculty and alumni. At the time, she was one of only three women on the faculty.
Kline added that England would be considered “quirky and old-fashioned,” but the girls today would “really like her.” She was “all about the girls” and made it a point to know all of them personally. She would have the senior girls over for tea in groups of four or five.
One of her favorite phrases was “Young ladies know when to be quiet; and they know when to speak up.”
The daughter of band director William O’Callaghan, she was not allowed to attend CMA. After graduating from Culver High School, she attended the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio. She left college in 1944 to join the WAVES, the women’s arm of the Naval Reserve and was stationed in Washington, D.C. She reached the rank of lieutenant.
After the war, she joined the U.S. Signal Corps and was assigned to Tokyo. That is where she met Sidney England, a native of Australia. They moved to Brisbane for 10 years, but he died unexpectedly. She found herself as a single mother on foreign soil with her young son, Robert ’71, Kline said. In 1962, she returned to Culver to take care of her ailing mother.
She was teaching English at Culver Community, where Kline met her. Her first priority was to “see her students succeed,” Kline said. Five years later, she transferred to Culver Academies. Shortly after joining the staff, England was tasked with laying the groundwork for girls to enter Culver.
Dean England believed in establishing a fabric of tradition similar to CMA. She designed the graduation arch, which was built by local artists Jean and Warner Williams. She started the tradition of the bouquets at graduation. England originally handed each girl a bouquet of her favorite flowers, but realized that would not be possible as the number of graduating seniors grew. After 12 years as the Dean of Girls, she returned to the classroom, where she continued to push both girls and boys to prepare for their future roles as citizens.
Kline ended with three items for the students to work toward to become good citizens.
- Be curious – expand your horizons.
- Be informed – “break the bubble” locally and globally.
- Be kind – “You can be anything in the world, but always be kind.”