Sister Mary Paul Hickey, RSM, founder of The Campus School of Carlow University, died on January 16, 2019
Susan Petnuch and Sister Mary Paul
Sister Mary Paul Hickey, RSM, the founder of The Campus School of Carlow University, died today, Wednesday, January 16, at the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Oakland, located on the university’s campus. She was 97 years old.
In September 1963, Sister Mary Paul opened the Mount Mercy College Campus School as a demonstration school for Mount Mercy College’s (as Carlow University was known then) Education Department. She served as executive director and head of the school twice: from its founding in 1963 until sometime in the 1980s, when she left Pittsburgh to become the executive director of St. Peter Home for Children in Memphis, Tenn., a residence for emotionally disturbed and delinquent boys and girls, and after she returned to Pittsburgh in 1988, when she served in several positions at Carlow before resuming her duties as head of The Campus School in the 1990s.
“The goal was to provide opportunities for college students preparing for elementary school teaching to observe and participate in excellent teaching and enthusiastic learning,” recalled Sister Mary Paul in an interview on the occasion of her retirement as head of the school in 2006 for the Carlow Journal. “The Campus School has grown beyond anything I could have imagined.”
The Campus School has grown from its founding in 1963 for students from kindergarten through sixth grade to the school which today includes an Early Learning Center, a traditional and Montessori Preschool, Pre-K, Kindergarten and Montessori Kindergarten, and grades 1 through 8 on the university’s campus.
Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD, president of Carlow University said, “Sister Mary Paul’s innovative and entrepreneurial leadership is characteristic of the Sisters of Mercy and led to the founding of a school that serves as a national model for laboratory schools at universities across the country. Her deep commitment to children and their education, our alumni, and Carlow University were a constant throughout her life.”
“Sr. Mary Paul dedicated her entire adult life to the education of children and teaching teachers. She was much more than an outstanding school administrator,” said Michele R. Atkins, the current executive director and head of the school. “She was a visionary educator and the heart and soul of The Campus School. Her passion for children and zest for life, coupled with her broad grasp of educational theory and her vast experience, inspired, challenged and motivated both students and teachers alike.”
Sister Mary Paul was born in McKeesport, where she was taught by the Sisters of Mercy in St. Peter’s Parish. She entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1939, and made her final vows in 1944. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Mount Mercy College (now Carlow University), a master’s in education from Duquesne University, and PhD from Fordham University. A gifted educator of little children, she taught first and second grades at several diocesan schools, and at Our Lady of Mercy Academy.
“I’ve been a teacher all my life,’ she said in the previously mentioned interview at Carlow. “I’m the oldest of five, and, when we would play school, I was always the teacher. And not just a teacher, but I was always a Sister-Teacher. I would drape a white handkerchief across my head to use as a veil.”
After her retirement from The Campus School in 2006, she volunteered as the alumni relations director for The Campus School. Most recently, she participated in the ministry of prayer, and maintained her current connection to the school through her lunchtime conversations with its leaders.
Preceded in death by her parents, brothers Reverend John P. Hickey, Paul S. Hickey and sister Loretta Nee, Sister Mary Paul is survived by a brother, Thomas J. Hickey, nieces, nephews and grand nieces and nephews. Friends will be received Friday, January 18 from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, January 19 from 8-11 a.m. at the Convent of Mercy, 3333 Fifth Avenue followed by a funeral Mass Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Convent Chapel. Interment will be in St. Xavier’s Cemetery, Latrobe, Pa. Arrangements entrusted to the EDWARD P. KANAI FUNERAL HOME, 500 Greenfield Avenue. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sisters of Mercy, 3333 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213, or to The Campus School of Carlow University, 3333 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213.