Robert and Mary Margaret Scypinski Scholarship Fund

Geri Cicchetti

Monday Apr 12th, 2021

The Robert and Mary Margaret Scypinski Scholarship Fund supports the Hagen History Center’s educational programs for school-aged children, including student field trips and attendance at the HHC’s summer history camp which begins in July, 2021.  

The scholarship is named for two local educators.  Robert, a graduate of Gannon College, earned a Masters’ Degree in Education at Allegheny College and his Administration Certification from SUNY.  Robert was with the Erie School District for 44 years. He taught at Kanty Prep and Strong Vincent; was a Language Arts Coordinator for the District; was Principal at Tech Memorial, Roosevelt, and Gridley; and was a camp counselor and librarian at Camp Sherwin. 

Mary Margaret was a graduate of Villa College with degrees in Biology and Chemistry.  She was a library science teacher and librarian at St. Peter Cathedral Center School. She was also a cancer research assistant with Sister Eymard at Mercyhurst University and a caseworker for the American Red Cross.

In the past, children often got their first exposure to local history on a school field trip or scouting trip to the museum.  They would see the Watson-Curtze Mansion. 

However, with tighter school budgets, field trips are not possible.  In addition, with 43% of children under the age of 18 living below the poverty level in the City of Erie, families also cannot afford to take their children to the Hagen History Center.   

Why is it important for children to visit museums?  Museums open a world of imagination and exploration.  “Museums teach critical thinking, empathy, and other generally important skills and dispositions. Trips to museums help get kids excited about school subjects. Museums teach subject-specific content and skills. Museums expand the general world knowledge of students. Museum visits increase students’ cultural capital; in turn, school groups help museums reach non-traditional museum goers.” ( 

Museums are community centers that create community involvement and inspire civic engagement.  Students who do not visit museums miss out on these opportunities. Inner-city Erie students are currently missing out on these opportunities to develop the skills described above to help them escape generational poverty.

In 2021, HHC will open two new exhibit buildings, showcase 8 new professional designed exhibit galleries, and feature an exhibit of national significance.

The goals of the new exhibits are to continue the tradition of promoting Erie’s history and educating the community.  The new buildings feature creative, interactive exhibits and utilize multi-media to engage and entertain. Children should come away with experiences that combine storytelling and education, encourage critical thinking, develop an appreciation for our heritage and pride in our community with an understanding of Erie’s rich history

In addition to museum tours, A Week at the Museum is a summer history camp planned for the week of July 26-30, 2021 for students in grades 6-8.   Camp hours will be 9-12 PM Monday-Friday and there will be no charge to the campers.

Campers will begin with an in-depth tour of the Hagen History Center’s Campus, buildings, archives, and exhibit galleries.

Campers will experience the hands-on, detailed study of the care, preservation, storage, and research that goes on behind the scenes at museums. Students will handle and study both 2D artifacts (documents and books) and 3D artifacts (furniture, clothing, and household items).

Sharing their expertise on a wide variety of subjects, speakers from the Hagen History Center staff and volunteers will present daily talks to the campers on topics such as The Millcreek Flood, Erie County in the Civil War, the Underground Railroad in Erie County, The Erie Extension Canal, and the 1985 Albion Tornado.

Campers will have the opportunity to create their own exhibits using artifacts from our collections. These “pop-up” exhibits will be available for visitors to see.  They can also bring an artifact from home and research it, research a WWII ancestor, and take part in a scavenger hunt. 

HHC staff will take campers to selected historic sites and museums in Erie County such as the Erie Maritime Museum, the Battles properties in Girard, PA, the Wayne Blockhouse, Forts Overlook, and the Ft. LeBoeuf Museum in Waterford, PA. Transportation will be provided by the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority (EMTA) at no cost to campers.

To contribute to the Robert and Mary Margaret Scypinski Scholarship Fund, please contact Geri Cicchetti at 814-454-1813 x 34 or