Richard “Z” Zimmermann – Honorary Alumnus

In the fall of 1969, Richard Zimmermann — or “Z” as he was known by students and peers — joined Prairie as a Middle School core curriculum teacher and Upper School history instructor. Early in his career and already wearing many hats, Dick also introduced tech theatre to his students while supporting the AV Communications Department. With his leadership skills already on display for almost a decade, the fall of 1977 found him serving as both Middle and Upper School Head. Although these responsibilities shifted two years later, he continued to lead the Upper School while also teaching history and economics for nearly twenty years. Always one to drive innovation in the classroom, Z’s passion for education came full circle when he used small toy soldiers to reenact scenes from the Civil War, an exercise that many alumni still recall.

“I have seen the value of a Prairie education in the lives of all three of my children, through their joy and fulfillment in widely different worlds of experience — they were prepared. Prairie’s atmosphere fosters confidence and skill with graduates, and it carries them through the challenges of life.” – Dick

In 2000, Dick retired from the classroom and became instrumental in launching numerous school-wide initiatives that kept Prairie at the forefront of technological advancements amongst peer institutions, including the use of Apple computers. Still serving as Upper School Head in 2004, Dick adopted the use of Rubicon Atlas, an online curriculum repository that allows for collaboration between faculty and divisions. Prairie continues to utilize this online platform, which contributes greatly to the overall process of advancing student learning.

In 2007, Dick transitioned to the role of Assistant Headmaster and Head Human Resource Officer, finally saying farewell in 2014 to a career that had touched nearly every facet of independent school management. Although he served as a leader outside of the classroom for the last fifteen years of his career, he also enjoyed his duties as a parent while his three daughters — Katherine ‘06, Laura ’08 and Margaret ‘14 — attended Prairie beginning in the Early School.