It is with a sad heart that we announce the passing of EXPLO’s co-founder Ann (Rosenthal) Singal. After a brave battle with ovarian cancer, Ann died on April 6, 2021.
For those who knew Ann, she was a lifelong learner and teacher full of energy. She graduated from Brimmer and May School, attended Boston University for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees, and then began her professional career as an elementary school teacher.
In 1976, she and her late husband, Arnie Singal, put an idea into motion and founded Exploration Summer Programs. They envisioned a program in which students could broadly explore the world of people and ideas without the worry of tests and grades. Fondly called EXPLO by students, the program redefined the summer program industry. Ann and Arnie’s novel and exciting vision attracted students from around the world, as well as a staff of unusually talented college students, many of whom went on to national and international prominence in many fields.
Ann was involved in all aspects of EXPLO from enrolling students to meeting with families, hiring staff, and choosing which courses the program would offer. She lived on campus each summer and loved meeting and talking with students, visiting workshops, and cheering on creative ideas and programming. Ann led students on runs around the lake at Wellesley College and later introduced students to cycling, a sport she pursued daily for many years.
Ann was a prolific baker, a lover of dogs, an admirer of opera and ballet, an accomplished cultivator of bonsai trees, a world traveler, and a collector. Most importantly, Ann was devoted to her family.
She leaves behind her son Jeff Singal, daughter-in-law Miki, granddaughters Mia and Julia, of Nagoya, Japan; daughter Robbie Singal, son-in-law Jonathan Weintraub, grandson Ezra and granddaughter Raya, of Brookline, MA; twin sister Joan Bruck, formerly of Bedford, MA, and nieces and a nephew who loved her deeply.
The Singal Founder’s Fund
Ann and Arnie’s legacy of expanding young people’s perspectives, worldviews, and opportunities continues today. In 2017, the Exploration School Board of Trustees established the Singal Founder’s Fund in honor of the important and impactful work of EXPLO’s visionary founders. The Fund is directed at need-based scholarships as well as EXPLO initiatives that support young people in underserved communities.
Scott Traylor, EXPLO student, staff member, and trustee, remembers Ann:
I first met Ann when I was a teen attending EXPLO. At that time EXPLO had just completed its second summer when Ann and Arnie together realized I lived in the same town that they did. They asked if I would be interested in an after-school job to help them with various tasks around the EXPLO office (which was in those days based out of their home). It was a great job for a high schooler, and technically my first startup experience, seeing the inner workings of a fledgling organization grow day by day. I saw Ann after school most days throughout my high school experience, also spending time alongside Ann's children, Robbie and Jeff. We were all about the same age and got along fabulously together. Ann was the next closest adult in my life next to my mother. She was a smart, funny, and generous person, always interested in what was happening in your world. When I think of Ann, I remember the kindness in her voice, often followed by a friendly laugh. She was also a wonderful cook and made delicious dessert treats. Ann offered thoughts about how to succeed in school and would also write to me when I went off at college, sharing the latest news about my EXPLO coworkers. As EXPLO grew I recommended other friends of mine from high school and college to come work for EXPLO out of their home. It was like one big family, always growing, with Ann taking us all under her wing. It was such a memorable experience, and one that guided me down a path of caring greatly about education and being a part of so many different learning businesses and startups to this day. I miss those days, remember them fondly, and am forever thankful for the guidance Ann offered into my college years, my career, and beyond.