In the June 6, 1957, Inside SI, editor Dan Flynn ’57 paid tribute to outgoing principal, Fr. Robert Leonard, SJ, who had come to SI in 1951 as its vice principal and dean of discipline and who had served as principal starting in 1954. Flynn wrote that students came to respect Fr. Leonard. “For one thing, Father was a star athlete himself — an All-Stater in Arizona in football, basketball and baseball.” When Leonard took over as principal, it was “a popular choice,” wrote Flynn. “In the semesters that followed, strange things began to happen. Students were trusted with more and more privileges. SI had a principal who was with and for the students every inch of the way. The main secret of Fr. Leonard’s success lay in the fact that he trusted the students. He knew the good, positive method of directing them. Seldom was he heard criticizing the student body on the PA system. Instead of criticism, he boomed out the strong encouraging words which gave the students the confidence they needed.”
His replacement would be Fr. Thomas Reed, SJ ’34, a native San Franciscan and an SI grad. Born in 1917, Fr. Reed entered the Society after graduating from high school and taught at SI between 1942 and 1944. He studied education at St. Louis University, Stanford and USF where he received a doctoral degree in education counseling and psychology in 1985. He served as principal of SI between 1957 and 1964 before leaving for USF to serve as acting dean of education. In one of his first acts as principal, he created a split lunch period, given the large enrollment of 1957, with seniors and sophomores eating before juniors and freshmen. He also added fluorescent lights to the first floor corridor.
Fr. Reed was known as a forthright man who always spoke his mind, but “his frankness and off-the-cuff manner could be controversial,” according to his obituary published in the National Jesuit News. He made an unsuccessful bid in 1972 for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Education, but was appointed to the board by Mayor Joseph Alioto to fill a vacancy and served until 1977.