Dr. Ruth Wright Hayre’s life story is one of extreme determination and strong legacy of Black excellence. She became the first Black high school teacher in the city of Philadelphia and shattered other barriers there as well.
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Dr. Hayre was born October 26, 1910. Her father, Bishop Richard Wright Jr., promoted academic excellence, forging a path for his daughter. Graduating from high school at 15, Wright Hayre completed her undergrad studies at the University of Pennsylvania in three years, then her master’s and eventually her Ph.D.
While she aspired to teach high school in Philadelphia, the system did not permit Black teachers at the secondary level. After relocating down south, Wright Hayre returned to Philadelphia with a decade’s worth of experience. In 1946, the school system permitted her to teach senior high, which ultimately led to her becoming the first Black vice principal and principal of a Philadelphia high school.
In 1963, Dr. Wright Hayre continued to make history by becoming the first Black public school superintendent. She retired in 1976 but returned to education nine years after to join the city’s Board of Education.
Wright Hayre, who was married to fellow educator Tallmadge Hayre, passed in 1999.
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