Leaven Blog

Margaret Fay is turning 100! Help us celebrate her this Catholic Schools Week!

by Anita McSorley

I wasn’t her favorite student.

And I was far from her best.

But the impact that Margaret Fay had on the course of my life is hard to exaggerate.

So when I discovered that she was going to be celebrating her 100th birthday later this spring, I decided that it was high time to thank her.

So thank you, Miss Fay, for being the toughest teacher I had in 18 years of formal education.

Thank you for never giving me a grade I didn’t deserve.

For holding your students to the highest standards — yours.

And for being an example of faith and integrity to us all.

Thank you, too, for nurturing in me the talents you saw in me; they eventually put my kids through college.

I even want to thank you for making me memorize those lines from “Macbeth.” Little did I know at the time how often the Bard’s words describing life as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” would sum things up pretty darn well.

In short, thank you for being such a formidable force in my life. And educating me so well that I know that formidability is not only a quality of those who evoke fear — but also of those who inspire respect.

I have used what you taught me almost every day of my adult life.

And now I am inviting my classmates — of Bishop Ward’s class of ’75, but also of the generations of students before and after mine who were taught by Miss Fay — to join me in wishing her a happy Catholic Schools Week at the end of this month and a happy 100th in May.

Send to me — on our Facebook page or by email (anita.mcsorley@theleaven.org) — your name (include maiden name if appropriate), your class, and a brief note for Miss Fay. Keep it short, but offer a greeting, tell her what you’re doing now, share your favorite Miss Fay story, or explain how she impacted your life.

I need your contribution by Jan. 18. And then I need one more thing.

Help me spread this post far and wide. Let’s see how many of Miss Fay’s former students are still out there, ready to honor a very special teacher this Catholic Schools Week.

About the author

Anita McSorley

Anita, managing editor of The Leaven, has over 30 years’ experience in book, magazine and newspaper editing, including stints as the assistant editor of the “Diplomatic Papers of Daniel Webster” at Dartmouth College and then in the public relations departments of Texaco, Inc., and the Rockefeller Group in New York. Anita made the move to newspaper editing when she came to The Leaven in 1988, where she has been ever since. Anita is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., and in her spare time, she enjoys giving her long-suffering husband, her children and her staff good advice that they never take.

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  • Do you happen to know if this is same Margaret Fay who taught at Hayden, earlier ? My mother remembers Margaret Fay who taught English and PE – the year Hayden gym was built and the first year they had PE, my mom was a high school senior (Marian Courtney.) She thinks is same person but not sure ?

    • Hi Catherine,
      Yes, Margaret Fay also taught at Hayden for about two years, so that’s likely who your mom is remembering.
      Thanks for your interest!

      • Thank you very much, Moira ! I will let her know. She wanted to send a card but be sure it was right person. C.

  • Congratulations on reaching your 100th birthday.
    I will always remember how hard you made me work and how it paid off in the years to follow. My mother had you for gym.
    Larry Flournoy class of 69

  • Miss Fay Happiest Birthday ever. When you look back over the years just know that there are so many of your pupils appreciated you more after they graduated award HS in the 60’s. You not only taught us your classroom rules but also a deeper love for our English language. You were absolutely the best of the best. Rich and I both Thank You for teaching us. ❤️❤️Cindy Dickason ’66. Rich ’64.

  • Miss Fay
    You didn’t have me in one of your classes
    I had heard you were tough and I SO wanted to be in your class.
    Thankfully, even tho I wasn’t lucky enough, I made it a private point in my life to uphold the values you shared at Ward

  • Ms. Fay taught my mom, at least one of my sisters, my brother and myself. I actually had her as my Creative Writing teacher. She had us write a term paper in the most traditional fashion. We had a thesis statement, outline, note cards and so much more. Ms. Fay has a reputation as being a challenging teacher and my paper was on Neil Simon and his use of Schtick. Well, she said it was Good! Very interesting! But, at the end she did want a broader definition of Schtick. Exclamation points were included. I still have the folder with all of it in there and am proud I got a B+. That was an honor from her. She could have a serious expression but it was an honor to make her smile. Miss Fay, happy birthday from Joyce Buening Daneke class of 1975.

  • Your name has been spread far and wide.
    After 63 years of life-yours is the name that immedietly comes up as one of my most influential people and all time favorite teachers.
    Although you taught me many truths, the one story I always tell is;
    In your Creative Writing class. One day, you handed my back my paper from an assignment. You quietly complemented me on what I had written. Then very discretely…you said to me;
    “Jhon…if you dont make your handwriting more legible…I am going to fail you because it is just too much work to decipher what you have written.”
    That night…I laid on the floor in front of the TV with a spiral notebook. And while Richard Nixon was giving some kind of a State of the Union speech, I slowly and methodically re-taught myself penmanship.
    To this day. If I write deliberately…and slowly. I have the most beautiful and clear and rounded penmanship.
    That being said.
    The faster I write…the more my “chicken scratch” comes out.
    I tip my ever grateful hat to you.
    You are eternal to those of us here, who tell your story…
    And your name…to generations who follow.
    Jhon M. Gunther
    We have won.
    We are one.
    The Class of 1971

  • Happy Birthday to You. Although I wasn’t one of your students, who from Bishop Ward doesn’t know Miss Fay! Congrats on 100! Denise Draskovich Bullock ’77

  • You inspired a great many of us to become teachers. For 40 years, I hopefully challenged my elementary students as well as you challenged all of us to think, create, and grow. Happy 100 to a fabulous woman! Bernie Acinger West, Class of 1971

  • Happy Birthday, Ms. Fay!! You made the English classics come alive for me!! Thank you so much! You’ve left quite a legacy for so many of us!!

  • Ms Fay was a great teacher. No nonsense in her class. But she never got my name right. She always called me Liz.

  • Congratulations Miss Fay! You were and remain today a wonderful inspiration to the benefits of hard work, study, and dedication. When I think back to my high school days, you are the first teacher to come to mind as a positive influence, and that recollection included many good people! Brian Kubicki (81)

  • Margaret Fay was also a tremendous role model for her fellow teachers. It was a joy and a challenge to teach with her at Ward. She was definitely a credit to the teaching profession. When I think of Ward, I think of Margaret Fay. God bless.

  • Happy 100th Birthday Miss Fay! You have been and continue to be such a wonderful example for us all. May God’s blessings surpass all the appreciaton and love we all have for you.

  • One evening I was watching a program on television with my husband and daughter who was an English major in college. A brief mention was made of the Macbeth soliloquy “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…” and I recite the entire poem. My daughter gave me a look of shock and I said, “Miss Fay, Ward High School.” All these many years later I still remember. Happy Birthday! Janet Gorman Hoven ’74

    • I did not see the need at the time. Years later it occurred to me that it was really helpful to write a cohesive business message. Thanks Margaret Fay.