Patty Fagin’s (Ed.S. ’95) time at UMKC was defined by diversity. As a white woman from the suburbs, Fagin says it was her first time studying with students of color
“I was taking courses around diversity and had conversations with people that I’d never had before,” Fagin says. “That really helped me open my eyes as to how students are treated differently. Not just because of their ability or disability, which is my area, but also because of race or ethnicity.”
At UMKC, Fagin learned how students’ problems could be aggravated by a school or an institution, rather than by the students themselves.
“Is it the kid, really, or the institution that creates the problem?” Fagin asks. “That was a real eye-opener for me — to think that if schools were structured differently, maybe these students wouldn’t struggle the way they struggle.”
Fagin chose to study special education because she wanted every student to enjoy school as much as she did as a child. Today, she carries out that goal as the head of school at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls’ school in Princeton, N.J.
In her 40-year career, Fagin says she has learned the importance of teaching young people to be good citizens and good adults, not just good students.
“You need to support the whole child,” Fagin says. “It’s not just the academics. It’s that faith and character piece. … We are here to make a difference in the world.”
As for her life in New Jersey, Fagin says she appreciates both the beautiful environment and the people in it.
“Princeton is an incredible town. It’s bucolic almost — surrounded by farms,” Fagin says. “Great culture and academics, and an entire community that’s focused on discussions … They want to talk about everything.”