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Hyman endowment ensures access to gifted education

Alumna reflects on a legacy of service and learning
Posted June 14, 2017
Johns Hopkins alumna and longtime educator Mary Hyman makes a significant commitment to the Center for Talented Youth and the bright children it serves. Johns Hopkins alumna and longtime educator Mary Hyman makes a significant commitment to the Center for Talented Youth and the bright children it serves.

Mary Hyman's career in education took her from pre-school to after-school, from college-prep courses to graduate-level advising.

But programs she coordinated leading to the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth hold a special place in her heart; remembering 11- and 12-year-old students tackling subjects such as physics and advanced math still brings a proud smile to her face some 40 years later.

Hopkins psychologist Julian Stanley began identifying middle schoolers who were years beyond their grade-level in math and science in the early 1970s. He tapped Hyman, then director of education for the Maryland Academy of Sciences, to design Saturday morning sessions for the brightest among them. Hyman, who earned a master's degree in education from Hopkins in 1976, recruited local experts to help teach subjects from astronomy to Earth science.

"It wasn't much at first," says Hyman, an original member of CTY's advisory council. "But we thought, if he keeps identifying them, we'll do the best we can…. CTY has grown like crazy, and I've always remained interested."

Stanley formally founded CTY at Hopkins in 1979, and immersive summer experiences and international and online options for some of the nation's and world's most promising students would follow over the next four decades.

In 2000, Hyman and her husband, financial planner Sigmund "Sig" Hyman, created the Sigmund and Mary Hyman Scholarship Endowment to ensure talented students from families of varied financial means continued to have access to such opportunities. Late last year, Mary Hyman pledged a significant gift from her estate to shore up the endowment, support research into effective programs for gifted and talented children, and finance marketing efforts that could broaden CTY's reach.

The fund, named after the couple, specifically provides scholarships for highly qualified students interested in advanced studies. "This latest gift reflects the length, breadth, and depth of Mary's commitment to CTY and the students we serve," says Elaine Tuttle Hansen, CTY's executive director. "It will significantly advance our top three strategic priorities: access and affordability for qualified students from all backgrounds through more need-based scholarships for middle-income families; research on the most effective educational programs to develop the full potential of the most advanced learners; and advocacy for talent development."

"This latest gift reflects the length, breadth, and depth of Mary’s commitment to CTY and the students we serve."
Elaine Tuttle Hansen, executive director, CTY

CTY's focus is to be a leader in the education of advanced learners worldwide, to open access to CTY's opportunities for top students from all backgrounds, and to originate and communicate research on recognizing and developing the talents of students of great academic promise.

Hyman, who helped develop classes in geology, marine sciences, and astronomy for CTY summer residential sessions, has stayed connected to CTY by visiting summer sessions in the U.S. and Ireland. She says she would like to see CTY, especially the summer session component, expand to other parts of the U.S. and more international sites, and maintain its stringent standards and quality programming.

She recalls the program's early years when some of her co-workers at the Maryland Science Center struggled to afford CTY enrollment on average incomes, especially if they had multiple children who qualified. In addition to offering opportunities to explore such advanced topics as astronomy and paleo-biology, Hyman cites CTY's unique social environment as critical for young students who might struggle to find like-minded peers at their home schools.

After leaving the Maryland Science Center, Hyman moved to Loyola University, where she served as coordinator of science education programs and the Institute for Childhood Education at Loyola University for 26 years. She retired late last summer. She remains active in education and art circles, serving on volunteer boards of Franklin and Marshall College, her husband's alma mater; Goucher College, where she earned her undergraduate degree; and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

An avid reader, she also takes classes regularly through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins.

"Education has always been important to me," says Hyman. Her daughter holds a bachelor's and a master's in the Hopkins Writing Seminars, and Hyman's home is a testament to a family legacy of service and learning. Her grandfather's microscope from Tufts Medical School and her book collection are given prime spots among her prized collection of American paintings and sculptures.

Hyman views CTY as a program that stimulates students who most need the challenge, inspiring them to pursue their own passions. Her estate gift will ensure that promise for generations to come.