Alumni interview their alumni friends and highlight their achievements and accomplishments in the To Be and Find a Friend series. Click Read More for Melissa Duban '84's interview with Mary Howard '84, owner of Penny & Ting.
Interview with Mary Howard '84 by Melissa Duban '84
On my first day as a new freshman, I walked through the archway on the Quad and passed under the prophetic words that would prove true many times throughout my years at Hackley. Equal parts nervous and excited, I made my way through the unfamiliar maze of hallways and staircases. Taking a deep breath, I pushed open the door to the basement classroom that housed Mr. Van Leer’s Anthropology class. As I attempted to make my way to the safety of a back row seat, I was greeted by a kind smile that instantly put me at ease – and began a cherished and enduring friendship.
The following is my conversation with my dear friend and fellow Class of ’84 alum, Mary Howard.
Melissa: What brought you to Hackley?
Mary: I remember telling my parents that I wanted to go. I was 12 at the time and I don’t remember exactly what I was motivated by, but I knew that I wanted something different than what I was getting at the time. I wanted challenges, academics, and in retrospect I think what I wanted to be offered was more of a world view.
Melissa: What was your first impression of it? Did it change over time?
Mary: I think my first impression of Hackley was its’ authenticity and the campus’ physical beauty – it was inspiring. I found that Hackley’s unique physical space was echoed in the culture. It was a place of authentic and deep foundational learning where the individual voice was not only valued, but also taught to express itself articulately and thoughtfully.
Melissa: What habits/skills did Hackley foster in you?
Mary: We were not only encouraged, but also expected to develop ourselves in terms of learning, taking responsibility, and engaging. For me, this was invaluable in making meaningful connections with the world. It taught me to go out and explore and to never be afraid to be a learner.
Melissa: How have those habits/skills influenced you throughout your life?
Mary: I learned how to trust and think for myself, to have the courage to try new things, and to develop a true sense of who I was and what I wanted to accomplish.
Melissa: You recently left the field of education to open your own business, what was the inspiration/vision for the idea for your store Penny & Ting?
Mary: Being in education, I had an opportunity to see what motivated children. My goal was to create a business where I could meet a need but also develop my vision for a beautiful and inspiring children’s gift shop. I wanted the shop to reflect everything that I had learned that was important and fun in educating a young child.
Melissa: Has your vision changed?
Mary: It’s always evolving as I continue to learn more about running the business, the community, and the customers. The Town of Ossining amazed me as well. I received an incredibly warm welcome. It’s also a real eye-opener to see how a small business can be part of the community. It’s very much a symbiotic relationship
Melissa: What impression/experience would you like most people to have of the store?
Mary: My hope is that it becomes a place where the customer is inspired to feel like a child again, but also to buy something that they know is contributing to a child’s happy and valuable memories.
Melissa: What makes Penny & Ting an expression of you?
Mary: My background is early childhood education, and Penny & Ting is always trying to carry a well-balanced selection of meaningful items for all areas of the young child’s development. I believe the young child responds to quality and aesthetics as much as the adult does – I want everything in the store to reflect that.
Penny & Ting is located at 133 Main St in Ossining, NY
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10 -5 & Sunday: 11 - 3
Questions? Call (914) 373-2590
is a Marketing Communications consultant in the Greater Atlanta area. She is currently the CMO for Galaxy Ai Innovations
, an exciting startup company that has developed an innovative, fully-integrated digital platform to address addiction. Proven best practices in addiction medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy are paired with leading-edge advances in artificial intelligence and software technology deliver an effective, affordable, and accessible digital “on-demand” treatment solution that incorporates both human and AI chatbot intervention and interaction.