A gifted teacher who tirelessly promoted her students both within their schools and in the larger world, Judith Peixotto was appointed the first Jewish principal in the city of New York in 1849, at age 24. A Sephardic Jew of Spanish and Portuguese origin, Peixotto began teaching public school in 1843, after the death of her father. In 1848, fourteen of her students, ages seven to sixteen, were selected to have their writing included in the student body’s annual report, the Excelsior Annual. In 1850 the New York Sun praised Peixotto as a “thorough scholar and teacher.” From 1849–1850 she also served as principal of the Female Evening School No. 10, Fourth Ward, while continuing to teach at other schools. The evening school instructed women from ages twelve to fifty in literacy and basic math, and Peixotto wrote to the school’s committee of her belief that many of the school’s students would use their education to become professionals and even teachers. Despite her dedication, Peixotto seemingly stopped teaching after marrying David Hays, a pharmacist, in 1851, common practice for a married woman at the time.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Judith Peixotto." (Viewed on December 13, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/peixotto-judith>.