Jouett’s Volunteer Community Advisory Committee Recommends the School Be Renamed Journey Middle School

The volunteer community advisory committee that has been conducting the naming review for Jack Jouett Middle School has completed its work, recommending that the name of the school be changed to Journey Middle School.

The committee, which began its work in May, included the school’s principal; school staff and faculty; parents of students at the school; parents of elementary school students who attend feeder schools; members of the broader community; and an Albemarle High School student who attended the middle school. The 16-member advisory panel held two online surveys and two public meetings to gather input from the broader school community.

The committee’s chair, Hannah Peters, who is a teacher at the school, said a guiding influence in the committee’s deliberations was the opportunity to select a name that was relevant today to the school’s values, its purpose, and what it represents to present and future students and staff.

“Inclusiveness was the value repeated most often by our students, community members, and staff. Journey is a concept that applies to all. Middle school is a place that prepares students for the academic rigors of high school and beyond. It’s where students begin to think seriously about careers and relationships. It’s where success takes root,” Peters said.

The concept has particular meaning for a school that has earned international recognition for its AVID Program, which is centered on providing students with support, counseling, and program opportunities that provide them with college and career readiness skills.

The committee’s recommendation is being reviewed by Superintendent Matthew Haas. Dr. Haas will consider the committee’s contributions before making his own recommendation to the school board on August 12. Board members will decide on the school’s name as early as their August 26 meeting. Any changes to the school’s current name would take effect on July 1, 2022.

Jouett is the fifth school in the division to conduct a naming review. In directing that all schools named for individuals in the division have their names reviewed, the school board said the purpose should be to ensure that the names of all schools represent the division’s values of equity, excellence, family and community, and wellness.

Jouett School Community Mandalas: 2 photos grouped

Peters said one of the highlights of the review was the involvement of students, through a project that involved more than 100 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. Students were asked to create mandalas to signify their aspirations for the school. Mandalas are geometric designs, and Peters said there was a great deal of similarity among the various representations. “Not only were the designs compelling from a visual perspective,” she said, “but they celebrated diversity and a school environment that welcomes, nourishes and sustains all our families, students and staff.”

Journey as a shared experience for all was the name that best represented that consensus, said Peters. Other finalists were Hope, Peace and Justice; Monacan; Katherine Johnson; and retaining the Jouett name.

The school’s principal, Ashby Johnson, said the review was an uplifting opportunity for the school and those it serves. “It’s not often that students, their parents, and staff have the chance to name their school. As a former student here myself, I understand the attachment a school name can have for some members of a community. Our original name, dating back to 1966, represented a different time in our county’s educational history. A great deal has changed over the past 55 years in our responsibilities to serve our community,” she said.

The committee’s research stretched back even further than 1966. It included a finding that Jack Jouett, who was a captain in the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War, owned farms in Virginia and Kentucky. As many as 25 men, women and children were reported to have been enslaved by Jouett.

“I want to thank all of the volunteers who served on the committee for their thoughtful dedication and leadership and all of those who participated in our outreach, especially our students. I am proud of what this collaboration has produced by opening a new window into our future,” Johnson said.

The four previous school naming reviews also were conducted by volunteer community advisory committees, and the superintendent supported the recommendation in each instance. The school board changed the name of three schools and retained the name of another. Summaries of all completed reviews and those in progress are accessible from the school division’s School Names Under Review web page.

Pictured: School Community Mandalas; lower photo features Assistant Principal Christie Isaiah


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