Skip To Main Content

Distinguished Alumni: Nancy (Schoonover) Rhinehart '52

Exterior photo of Firestone Hall at dusk

Nancy (Schoonover) Rhinehart is confident she would not have had the same opportunities in life if it wasn’t for Old Trail School.

Back in the 1950s, Old Trail offered scholarships for area students to attend the all-girls high school. Nancy’s eighth grade teacher at the little country school in North Hampton saw her potential and encouraged her to apply. At the time, Nancy didn’t know anything about Old Trail. She had planned to join a friend at Hudson High School after eighth grade, but when she won the scholarship, her mother urged her to enroll at Old Trail.

While Nancy had always been one of the top students in her class, Old Trail challenged her in all of the best ways. “I found out I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was,” Nancy shares. “The scholastic competition was very good for me.” One of her math teachers encouraged Nancy to take her learning a step further. “Nancy, he told me, there are times when I ask a question and I see that no one in the class gets it, but you do. I need for you to ask a question to lead the discussion so these other girls can learn along with you.” Nancy hadn’t thought about learning this way before.

Among fond memories of going to dancing classes at the Western Reserve Academy (“It was how we met boys, and I liked boys”), Nancy recalls trekking across campus under a covered portico to the Quonset hut left from the war they used as a gymnasium on the old campus.

Nancy’s education at Old Trail catapulted her into a scholarship to Smith College and onward, to become one of the first female engineers at BF Goodrich, where she designed aircraft tires.

Without the scholarship to Old Trail, Nancy’s life trajectory would have certainly looked different. Challenged by other bright students and encouraged by teachers to step out of her comfort zone and assert herself in the classroom all contributed to preparing Nancy to succeed in a competitive and male-dominated field.

Nancy is thrilled that Old Trail continues to make a way for students like her who can’t attend on their own. Throughout the years, the school has continued to change for the better, and its mission is one that Nancy is proud to support. “I hope to see them last another 100 years!”