Dr. Ruth W. Hayre

Floyd L. Logan
John C. Haas

Dr. Ruth W. Hayre was a pioneer in Philadelphia public education. In 1931 she applied unsuccessfully for a teaching job in the public schools, an unsurprising outcome since the schools were not hiring African-American teachers above the elementary school level.

A decade later, Hayre returned and was hired as the city’s second African-American junior high school teacher. Hayre went on to be the city’s first African-American high school teacher, first African-American principal, first female African-American district superintendent, and first female president of the board of education

She received her bachelor, master and doctorate degrees, all from the University of Pennsylvania. As a principal Hayre established WINGS (Work Inspired Now Gains Strength), a program which encouraged students to discover their talents through college preparatory classes and diverse cultural experiences. After retiring from the school district she turned to philanthropy.

Inspired by millionaire Eugene Lang’s venture providing college education for at-risk youth, Hayre started and personally financed the Tell Them We Are Rising Fund at Temple University. This fund “adopted” 119 middle school students from North Philadelphia and guaranteed their post-secondary school tuition if they graduated from high school.

Nearly half of this cohort went on to two or four-year colleges or technical school. Hayre, wrote, together with Alexis Moore, her autobiography, Tell Them We Are Rising: A Memoir of Faith in Education (1997).