This article originally appeared in the World of Giving, Fall 2002
Whether it was creating a school breakfast program for children or counseling troubled soldiers returning home from war, Charles Hayes Jr. (EDUC '55) spent his life reaching out to others.
So when he died at age 87, his widow, Silvia Hayes (EDUC '56), 1972 School of Education Distinguished Alumna, could think of no tribute more fitting than to create an endowed fund that would support graduate students in the learning and physical disabilities education program at the School of Education.
“One phrase defined my husband better than anything: 'Can I help you?' not 'May I help you?' but 'How can I help you?’ “says Silvia Hayes, herself a veteran music and English teacher. “And that's what this endowment fund will do; continue his work of helping others.”
Hayes, who earned his doctorate at Pitt, worked his way through the ranks of the Pittsburgh Public School system. After serving as a psychiatric counselor at the Pentagon during World War II, he completed his graduate studies and became director of one of the first team-teaching projects in the nation. He served as the principal of a poor inner-city high school and taught workshops at major universities around the country about the education of underprivileged children.
When Hayes died, in lieu of flowers, his wife asked mourners to contribute to the Hayes Endowed Fund, something she considered a more fitting legacy for a man who, in his own way, sought to change the world.
“That's why this was his memorial. He was a wonderful, wonderful educator,” Silvia Hayes says. “I don't think we could do anything better.”
According to School of Education Dean Alan Lesgold, the $50,000 Hayes Endowed Fund will initially pay for scholarships.
“Teachers for the blind, teachers for the deaf, even the more general kinds of special ed—like teachers for students with learning disabilities—require more contact, more practicum time for students,” says Lesgold.
In some cases, these programs are the only source of special education training in Western Pennsylvania.
“That kind of instruction preparation is much more demanding of faculty time than giving a lecture. It involves a lot of coaching and personal training,” says Lesgold. “Having that support from Silvia Hayes is a wonderful shot in the arm.”