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About Fay Elementary

Mary Lanyon Fay Elementary held its groundbreaking ceremony in March of 2006 and opened its doors to students on September 2nd, 2008. As part of Proposition MM, Fay Elementary was originally built to ease overcrowding at Jackson and Marshall Elementary. Due to a decrease in enrollment, the students of Jackson Elementary were eventually designated to attend Fay Elementary.

Fay Mission Statement

Our mission is to inspire, empower, and educate every child in a safe, supportive, and caring environment. We provide a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum that fosters independence and a passion for learning. Our program consists of children, parents, staff, and community working together to provide students the skills necessary to emerge as proud successful members of society. 

Mary Lanyon Fay (1890 - 1974)

Born in 1890 in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, Mary Lanyon Fay became a dynamic and innovative leader in San Diego education as well as a civic leader and a respected advocate of women's rights and international exchange of knowledge and ideas. One of the longest serving members of the San Diego Board of Education, "Mary L" accomplished continual revision of school curriculum to adapt to changes in society as well as vigorous building program to meet San Diego's growth challenge.

Mary L. grew up in farming country in the middle west, graduating from high school in 1907 in Terrill, Iowa. She found her calling in education soon thereafter, and taught school for six years in Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Alberta, Canada, while attending Morningside College during the summers.  Mary L. later attended Pomona College in California. In 1914 she married William S. Fay, an engineer, with whom she had four children, all of whom attended San Diego schools.

In 1937, Mary L. was appointed to a vacant position on the San Diego School Board, and was elected to the Board later that year. During her 18 years on the Board, Mary L. served in various positions, including vice president and president. Throughout her tenure, she actively supported the continual upgrading of facilities and methodology to accommodate mentally retarded children. Mary L. facilitated the hiring of the first African American teachers in San Diego schools in the early 1940's and helped to formulate the principle that ability is the key criteria in selection of teaching staff.  In 1954 Mary L.  was named Citizen of the Year by both the San Diego Teachers Association  and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. The  Teachers Association cited her "loyalty to principles of spiritual values in her participation in the League of Women Voters, PTA, school board and other civic groups". Throughout her tenure on the Board and in later life, Mary L. was a firm believer in enriching our abilities through international exchange, and was the founder of many exchange programs.

Mary L. Fay passed away in 1974 in Salinas, California. Her life-long contribution society was nicely summarized by Betty Pengelly of the League of Women Voters: "Mary Fay was a concerned citizen and she spent her 83 years demonstrating this - her love of people and with people for the good of their total community, the World.

In recognition of Mary Lanyon Fay's many achievements as a devoted educator, this elementary school was named after her in 2006.