During last evening’s School Board meeting, Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Haas said that Virginia Lee Murray Elementary School in Ivy will be the next school in the division to undergo a community-based naming review.
The Superintendent’s decision follows direction from the School Board in October 2018 that all schools in the division named for individuals should be subject to a community naming review. The review is to ensure that the career of a school’s namesake exemplifies the division’s four values of excellence, young people, community, and respect.
Previously, the Board voted to approve changing the name of Cale Elementary School to Mountain View and the name of Sutherland Middle School to Lakeside. Still in process is a community review of a name for the division’s new charter school, which earlier this year combined Murray High School and the Community Public Charter School, a middle school.
The first two naming reviews focused on schools in the division’s southern and northern feeder patterns, while Virginia Lee Murray is in the division’s western feeder pattern.
Ms. Murray was born in 1897, attended elementary school in Albemarle County, and later was a 1927 graduate of Howard University. She also earned a master’s degree from New York University. She began her teaching career in a one-room school and three years later was appointed Supervisor of Elementary Education, the first Black supervisor to be appointed in the county.
When it was built in 1960, Murray Elementary School served only Black students from first through seventh grades. The school was desegregated five years later. When the school division opened a charter high school in 1988, it was housed in Murray Elementary School. When students relocated to the charter school’s present location on Rose Hill Drive in 1990, it retained Murray as its name.
Teller Stalfort, who has a child at Murray Elementary and at Henley, the middle school in Murray’s feeder pattern, will chair the community advisory committee for the elementary school’s naming review. “It’s an honor to be a part of a collaborative process that can bring together all of our parents, students and educators,” she said.
“The name of a school has a very special place in the heart of every member of our school community. I hope we will have broad participation from community members in thinking about the values of our school division and what we wish for all of our families and children,” she said, adding that goals such as equity and inclusion are important in the formative development years of students.
Stalfort will lead a volunteer committee that will include the school’s principal, Alison Dwier-Selden; three Murray teachers or staff members; at least three parents who have children enrolled in the school; and two local community members who do not have children enrolled in the school. Those interested in serving on the committee are asked to email their name, affiliation with the school, and why they want to serve to SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org.
Among the committee’s responsibilities will be to design and publish an online survey to gather input on the school’s current name and any suggestions of alternatives. These responses will be the subject of a subsequent public meeting. The committee will eventually narrow the list of prospective names to no more than 10, which will be the subject of a second public meeting.
Committee members will decide on whether the school’s name should remain the same or be changed. They can select up to three names as finalists and will vote on the name they will send to the Superintendent for his consideration. Haas will make his recommendation to the School Board, which will make the decision on the school’s name.
The community advisory committee for the division’s charter school also is continuing with their naming review. On July 8, the committee said it was putting its initial recommendation on hold to enable it to “dig even deeper into local history, to learn more, and to continue to engage all voices. We specifically want to hear more from the residents of our neighborhood about perhaps the most prominent and historic building in their community and we want to hear more from our own students.”
The charter school’s lead teacher and facilitator of the advisory committee, Stephanie Passman, said, “We especially look forward to incorporating our work into the current school year curriculum so students can be a part of this authentic research and analysis. Our teachers are enthusiastic about sharing this opportunity with our learners,” she said.
The school division provides information on its school name reviews and progress updates on its School Naming Review website.
Members of the community with questions or suggestions throughout the Murray and charter school reviews can contact the advisory committees by email at SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org.
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer