Thirty-eight years after graduating from Tampa Preparatory School in 1979 — in the fledgling years of what would become a local institution — Matt Danahy still sees the same culture that made the School special when he was a student.
"Inclusiveness and acceptance," he says, recalling a hallmark of his alma mater. "You can always march to the beat of your own drum."
|Matt Danahy is the first alumnus to serve as President of the Board of Trustees.|
Now an accomplished Florida attorney, Danahy excitedly engages the Tampa Prep community in a new, historic context as the first graduate to serve as President of the Board of Trustees.
"It's a tremendous honor," he says. "I'm excited and thrilled to have a chance to give back to the School."
Danahy remembers starting at Prep in 1976 as a 16-year-old sophomore. At that time, the School was in its almost exceedingly humble original state as a renovated cattle barn located on Florida State Fairgrounds' turf at The University of Tampa.
"It was basically just drywall down each side of where you would normally walk the livestock and the stalls were made into classrooms," he recalls.
Although he had previously walked through the same barn as a kid attending the fair, Danahy wasn't distracted by the surroundings when starting as a student at Prep.
"It felt like a school," he says, crediting faculty and administrators for creating a familiar educational environment out of the former stable.
After graduating from Tampa Prep, Danahy went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Florida in 1983 and subsequently graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 1986. Throughout his legal career, he has received commendations and recognition from sources such as Florida Trend's Legal Elite, Florida Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers Florida.
As Danahy steps into his new role as Board President, Head of School Kevin Plummer commends his involvement with the School to date and has faith in his leadership. Danahy's commitment to Prep is reflected in his service on the Alumni Board since the mid-90s; his service on the Board of Trustees; and his longstanding involvement with the School's golf outing, including chairing the event. In 2011, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award.
"Naming our first alumnus as board president is a milestone in the evolution of our institution," Plummer says. "In our 43rd year, this demonstrates the maturity of a school that has come full circle to inspire some of our earliest graduates."
|Matt Danahy's senior |
As Plummer puts it, Danahy graduated in a different era. But from '70s disco days to the tech-infused culture of 2017, Tampa Prep remains a progressive marvel committed to providing the best education for its students.
The fact that both of his children are Terrapins confirms Danahy's faith in the vision and mission of the School. Conor was the first to follow in his father's footsteps, graduating with the Class of 2017. His daughter, Lauren, will graduate with the Class of 2018.
"To me, Tampa Prep was just a natural fit," Danahy says when thinking about his children's education. "I knew the School had integrity and instills an important curiosity about learning."
John "Bump" Fahey ('90), one of Danahy's colleagues on the Board of Trustees and the proud father of two young Terrapins, as well as Prep graduate Lane Fahey '16, says it wouldn't be accurate to state Danahy is "coming back" to Prep with his new position.
"He never left," Fahey assures. "I couldn't imagine a better example of a 'Terrapin For Life.' The guy just lives Tampa Prep and bleeds red and gold."
Echoing Plummer, Fahey says that Danahy's appointment as President of the Board of Trustees goes beyond symbolism — it displays how the dedication of key individuals has helped transform Prep from a few classrooms housed in a cattle barn to Tampa's most prestigious college preparatory school.
"The little school that dreamed big," Danahy says.
With the support of his colleagues and experience as alumnus, parent, volunteer and benefactor, Danahy is eager to keep that dream alive and continue the hard work of all those invested in the Tampa Prep community.
Board President during Opening Convocation Monday, August 21, at 8:50 a.m.