One of Miami’s most passionate advocates for high-quality early childhood education turned 100 years old on July 19.
On June 8, exactly 78 years after her graduation from the University of Miami, family and friends of Lucille L. Frazier celebrated her 100th birthday at a party to honor her legacy as a lifelong educator and founder of Village Pines School in south Miami-Dade County. Dozens of her former students returned for the celebration.
World War II had just begun when Lucille Frazier graduated from the University of Miami after studying English, Education and Psychology. She immediately focused her energy on service as a Red Cross volunteer, then turned her attention to her lifelong dream of a career in education.
“My mother had a strong belief that every child deserves an opportunity to receive a good education,” said Margery Amerling, Frazier’s daughter and caretaker. “She was one of Miami’s earliest innovators in education, completely focused on meeting the needs of every student.”
Born in Great Neck, NY in 1919, Frazier was a contributing writer for the Miami Hurricane student newspaper throughout college and was president of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. After graduation, she married Sidney L. Kline, a college classmate and an avid Hurricane football recruiter. The newlyweds moved to Youngstown, OH, and Frazier began her lifelong career in elementary education. She spent nearly three decades as one of Youngstown’s most beloved elementary school teachers, retiring in 1970 to return to her adopted hometown of Miami.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Frazier immediately set about planning her life’s next adventure — the founding of Village Pines School, which was then a small preschool. Through a combination of determination and problem-solving, Frazier launched Village Pines School as a private academy for students age 3 to the fifth grade level.
In addition to being a terrific teacher and administrator, the charismatic Frazier was known for being a lot of fun.
“Every December, Village Pines School hosted one of the most fantastic Christmas light displays in Miami, and one year she had a ton of snow delivered to the playground for the children,” Amerling said. “Another interesting tidbit is that my mother enjoyed taking trips to Las Vegas to play blackjack with her friend — basketball legend Michael Jordan.”
Village Pines School was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Frazier oversaw the complete rebuilding at the current site on 92nd Avenue and 150th Street, about a mile south of The Falls Shopping Center. Since 1970, Village Pines School has been a major academic force and has educated multiple generations of South Florida families. Frazier’s leadership and passion for high quality education has attracted a highly qualified and caring faculty and staff that are more like an extended family, Amerling said.
Amerling graduated from Syracuse University with degrees in the fields of elementary education and psychology and presently serves as the acting administrator of Village Pines School and consultant for Pearson Education.
“It’s an honor to continue the mission my mother began in 1970 at Village Pines School,” Amerling said. “To walk in her footsteps and greet her former students, many of whom return year after year, is a testament to her tremendous legacy.”
Village Pines School is located at 15000 SW 92 Ave., Miami, Florida 33176. For more information, visit www.villagepinesschool.org or call 305-235-6621.