By Raga Justin
September 30, 2021
Pamela Juan Hayes, a longtime educator who was the first layperson to become head of Sacred Heart Greenwich, has died. She was 75.
Hayes, who was born in 1946 and died Sept. 15, had recently retired after serving 11 years as Head of School at the all-girls private Catholic academy in Greenwich. She died in her sleep at her home in Florida, where she moved after her retirement, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, school officials said.
Hayes was a “lifer” at Sacred Heart Greenwich: she herself attended the school as a child from pre-school to high school before going on to be a teacher and administrator at Sacred Heart schools in New York and San Francisco. She ultimately returned to Greenwich toward the end of her career to become the first headmistress who was not a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart, the Catholic religious organization that founded the school.
Kathleen Dunn, an assistant head at Sacred Heart, said she had known Hayes for the 44 years since Dunn began working at the school. Hayes was a teacher there at the time and known for her vibrancy and involvement with the students, Dunn said.
“She had a great sense of humor, was a fun person to be around,” Dunn said. “She was strict — she kept the kids in line. But there would be days when, if it was snowing out, we’d grab lunchroom trays and go sledding down the big hill. She just had a real, immense love for her students.”
Margaret Frazier, the current headmistress who succeeded Hayes in 2020, said Hayes had been “loving and gracious” to Frazier during her transition into the leadership role.
“She represents so much of what Sacred Heart is all about... there’s a welcoming enthusiasm, a graciousness,” Frazier said. “Just by my own physical presence in this office, I know she’s here. It means a lot to me.”
Hayes’ legacy included a renewed interest in and bolstering of athletic programs, especially field hockey and lacrosse, Frazier said, adding that Hayes had been “quite the sportswoman” herself as a field hockey player. During her tenure, Hayes fundraised relentlessly to build new, state-of-the-art athletic facilities and grounds for sporting events.
Under her tenure, enrollment also skyrocketed.
Charlotte Marvin, a current senior at Sacred Heart who has been attending the school for most of her education, said Hayes had been instrumental in modernizing the school. She also recalled seeing Hayes champion students during multiple athletic and academic events.
“Seeing her walking through the halls, she was always the sweetest lady,” Marvin said. “Just hearing her speak was always so life-changing. She was a leader. She was not the person you would see the most day-to-day, but she was someone we all looked up to.”
Frazier said not many had not known of Hayes’ illness, adding that Hayes was an independent person who had looked forward to retirement. When she retired, Frazier said the school began the Pam Juan Hayes ‘64 Endowment Fund in 2021 to honor Hayes’ service to the school.
The fund will support design thinking and leadership initiatives, a move Frazier said will help students be successful in a “dynamic and changing” world.
“This is a bittersweet moment for the school and the community,” Frazier said.
The school said a memorial Mass will be held for Hayes at noon Oct. 9 at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church. A reception will follow at Sacred Heart Greenwich.