Dianne (Sullivan) Fahy ’92

The portrait of financial aid at Hackley is both extraordinarily complicated and, at its core, very simple. Complicated because there is no “type.” There is not even a particular economic stratum, in the sense that families at Hackley receive financial aid packages both large and small. For some, the need is large. For others, a little help is what it takes. It’s simple, though, because those receiving financial aid are simply great Hackley kids. And sometimes those great Hackley kids grow up to be great Hackley teachers.

Dianne Fahy, Hackley Class of 1992, is well known to Middle and Upper School students as an accomplished math teacher and proud Hackley alumna, though not many know her time at Hackley was made possible by financial aid. As a Hackley senior, she earned a prestigious Presidential Scholarship at Fordham University that provided four years’ tuition, room and board, and then returned to Hackley as a member of the math department.

As she told Julie Lillis in an interview in 2011, “When I was a student at Hackley I had always, especially in my senior year… [thought]… I could teach math. I think I could do it and… coach and live at Hackley…. So I went to college and coming back and getting a job at Hackley right out of college was literally a dream come true that I had since I was 16.”

Julie wrote, “She was a naturally brilliant student, and I was so pleased to see her return to the school where she had had so much success as a young person; one of the gifts of being a longtime faculty member is to see one’s young charges grow up and become the successful adults you knew they could be.” Her colleagues note her extraordinary loyalty to Hackley, and the way in which she strives to embody the school’s values.

As much as Dianne may be grateful for what Hackley offered her, we have all the more reason to be grateful for what she has given us, including her deep and personal commitment to diversity.

Of her own Hackley experience, she recalls, “The diversity was extremely positive — especially as a hint of a much wider world. It left me open to listening and learning, which has continued to shape my life journey. As a bright student, it would have been easy to jump to conclusions about how things worked. Diversity reminded me to listen and learn too, not just work the answers out only on my own.”

However, she quickly recognized that what mattered most at Hackley was the “welcome and common focus” on what was happening in her classes, which took emphasis away from the unavoidable realities of who had less and who had more. “The academic rigors offered a distraction and were held in much more esteem than any other issue or factor going on.”

As a teacher and member of this community, she hopes genuine diversity provides the opportunity to learn that “whatever our situation is, majority or minority within whatever identifier, that status is due IN PART to luck. Often, people believe economic status is tied to hard work — work harder, earn more. And then the converse is also often assumed — don’t earn much, they must not work hard. Only by being surrounded by others from different backgrounds can we begin to chip away at this perversion of the ‘American Dream’ myth.”