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About Hackley

From the Headmaster

For more than a century, Hackley School has welcomed all with the words carved over our entry: “Enter here to be and find a friend.” What brings us together on this hilltop is not just oustanding academics, but also friendship, and the belief that “character is higher than intellect.”

The warmth of our community enables both challenge and nurture, giving students the means to set high personal goals and attain them. Supporting student achievement in rigorous academics, arts, athletics, and community service, Hackley honors student commitment and strength of character. A Hackley education prepares students to think and act with care and effectiveness both at school and in their broader communities.

When I first visited Hackley with my young children in 1995, I hoped they would grow to be as kind, accomplished, and confident as the students I met. As I was then, I believe you, too, will be inspired by the educational opportunities of the Hackley School community—a place where it’s easy to be good.
Exploring Education for Health
20113-14 Perpectives Fall: By Walter C. Johnson, Headmaster: Some parents may have seen the Journal News’ interview of me in their recent educational supplement, Education Outlook: Private Schools September 2013. In it, I described Ethel Allen’s and her family’s intentions in making their exceptional gift to Hackley of paintings by Monet, Pissarro, and Sisley:

to support “a center for physical activity … not just a gym, but a center dedicated to life learning, physical activity, and knowledge of the body in motion.” Her hope was that, “every student will graduate with a thorough knowledge of nutrition and the value and experience of exercise suitable to him or her.” This goal will allow Hackley to create not only a new center for athletics, including a new pool, but a K-12 health and physical education facility reflecting emergent thinking on health and wellness.

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2013-14 Convocation Address
Each year at Convocation, Headmaster Walter Johnson invites the K-12 student body to consider their hopes for the new academic year. This year, he asked them to consider who and what they will choose to be.
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On Inheritance
By Walter C. Johnson, Headmaster, Hackley Perspectives Spring 2013: I had a friend in English Graduate School, a philosophy undergraduate major, one of the most rationally rigorous thinkers I’ve known. His father was a multi-millionaire, which back in those days meant something. He had made clear that he didn’t believe in inheritance and would give all his wealth to charities. His children would have to make their own way. My friend was remarkably accepting of this. I in contrast couldn’t imagine not trying to persuade my father otherwise, had I been similarly situated.
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An Historic Moment
By Walter C. Johnson, Hackley Review Winter 2012-13: On October 10th I wrote an email to our community announcing the gift to Hackley of three paintings from the Collection of Herbert Allen and Ethel Strong Allen, a bequest from Ethel Allen. Hackley sold these paintings -- Nymphéas (1905) by Claude Monet, Pommiers et faneuses, Eragny (1895) by Camille Pissarro, and L’allée des peupliers à Moret au bord du Loing (1890) by Alfred Sisley -- at auction by Christie’s on November 7th for final bids totaling $45,200,000.
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Assuring the Safety of Hackley’s Students
Walter C. Johnson, Headmaster: Accounts of sexual abuse in colleges, schools, and religious organizations have heightened awareness for all of us of this risk to our children. At Hackley, the emotional and physical safety of our students is our most important priority. If our students are not in a physically safe and emotionally supportive environment, our educational mission cannot be successful. To assure student safety, Hackley educates faculty and staff to be alert to anything that might impede students’ well being, including but not limited to concerns about racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, or bullying. We treat the topic of sexual abuse with equal care.
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Legacy: A Dedicated Community
As Hackley concluded another academic year, we had ample reasons for pride and anticipation. In terms of pride, Hackley closed the year with four State championships -- in Girls’ Basketball, Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse, and Boys’ Track and Field. That was in addition to eight league championships for the 2011–12 year -- an extraordinary achievement.
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Collective Responsibility
Hackley School bears an extraordinary responsibility, not only to our parents and students, but to our country, now and in the future. We share that responsibility with our nation’s other leading independent schools, which, like Hackley, offer an education supported not only by the significant tuition dollars paid by parents, but also by income from our endowment and tax-deductible capital and Annual Fund gifts. The educational opportunity Hackley and its peers offer is not available to most students in the United States, and as such, it represents a precious societal resource, an investment in our collective future more important than any other.
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Character Education: What Schools Can and Can’t Do
“For as wood is the material dealt with by the carpenter, bronze by the statuary, so the subject matter of each man’s art of living is his own life.” -- Epictetus
Pat Bassett, the Executive Director of the National Association of Independent Schools, has presented research on educational goals for the 21st century school, and found a consensus among authorities surrounding six skills students will need to succeed and prosper. They are:
• character (self-discipline, empathy, integrity, resilience, and courage);
• creativity and entrepreneurial spirit;
• real-world problem-solving (filtering, analysis, and synthesis);
• public speaking/communications;
• teaming; and
• leadership.
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2011-12 Convocation Speech
Good morning, and welcome to Hackley’s 113th year! This morning we give special welcome to all our new students, but especially Hackley’s newest class, our Kindergarten, the Class of 2024!
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Sternberg Library
Readers of the special fall issue of Hackley Review know that the restoration of Goodhue Memorial Hall found crucial support from Trustee Sy Sternberg, whose exceptional philanthropy inspired our community.

Remembering Service; Sharing Gratitude
At our Convocation on September 8th, as we celebrated the reopening of Goodhue Memorial Hall, I invited our students to remember in gratitude those whose labors created and sustained Hackley for us. We enjoy our teachers and our friends, our classes and the beauty around us, because others in times past gave their energy and wisdom to make it so. I drew their attention in particular to two tributes associated with Goodhue.
2009 - 2010

Journal News: Conversation Corner
Here is a PDF of the article that ran in the Journal News supplement A Guide to the Area's Finest Private Schools on September 4th, 2009.

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Walter C. Johnson
Walter C. Johnson: Future of Hackley School
1 Audio Clip
Published: 1/11/2013
About Walter C. Johnson
Walter C. Johnson was appointed Headmaster of Hackley School in 1995, after serving as Upper School Director at the American School in London and Collegiate School in Manhattan. Prior to Collegiate, he was an English teacher, Admissions officer, and Form Master at Trinity School in Manhattan. Walter grew up in Westchester and attended Amherst College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude in English (1974). He was then a University Fellow and Teaching Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received an M.A. in English (1976), and a Klingenstein Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he received an M.A. in Educational Administration (1990).

He serves as Secretary General of The Cum Laude Society and Regent for New York and Connecticut, and as a Director on the Board of The Parents League of New York. He has been elected to membership in the Headmasters Association and the Country Day School Headmasters’ Association, which he serves as a member of the Executive Committee.