Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Haas, announced last night that the next school to conduct a naming review will be Meriwether Lewis Elementary School (MLES). The school, named for Meriwether Lewis, an early-American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator born in Albemarle County, annually has an enrollment of over 300 students.
The name review process will be overseen by Ms. Karen C. Waters, the ACPS Director of Community Education. In addition to managing the name review process, Waters also runs the Open Doors, Driver Education, and Motorcycle Safety programs and manages the ACPS Student Equity Advisory Team (SEAT) through the Office of Community Engagement.
On beginning the name review process at MLES, Waters said, “This is a great opportunity for Meriwether Lewis Elementary School families to gain a greater understanding of their school’s namesake and to build community in the process.” She continued, “I look forward to assisting the MLES advisory committee and to hearing from the public throughout these efforts.”
Cheryl Wetmore-Simpson, a teacher at MLES, has been named the chair of the community advisory committee that will review the school’s name and make a recommendation to Dr. Haas on whether the name should be retained or the school should have a new name. The advisory committee will also include Jennifer Underwood, the school’s principal; at least three teachers and/or staff; at least three parents of Meriwether Lewis students; and two residents of the school community who do not presently have children enrolled in the school. Underwood will also involve students in the review process.
Committee membership will include participation in all committee meetings, of which there will be three, and two public meetings. Those interested in serving on the advisory committee are asked to email SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org by 5 p.m. on Monday, September 23, 2022, with the following information: why they would like to serve, their affiliation with the school, and their contact information. Committee members will be announced by Friday, September 30, and the committee is expected to hold their organizational meeting the following week.
As required by school board policy, the Meriwether Lewis naming advisory committee will conduct two online surveys to gather suggestions for the school’s name, including keeping the current name. Those surveys will be the subject of as many as two public forums, in which community members can provide feedback on survey results. Following these public engagement sessions, the committee will make a recommendation to Dr. Haas.
Meriwether Lewis was born in 1774 in the present-day community of Ivy. He is best known for his role as the leader, along with William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson just after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Jefferson named Lewis governor of Upper Louisiana in 1806. He died in 1809.
Meriwether Lewis will be the eighth school in the division to have its name reviewed. In all, there were 14 schools in the division named for individuals when the naming review policy went into effect in October 2018. In that policy, the school board directed that all 14 have their name evaluated by a community advisory committee to ensure that schools are named for individuals whose professional and community service records represent the school division’s values of excellence, equity, family and community, and wellness. Information on the naming review policy, process, and all of the current and completed reviews can be found on the division’s School Naming Review website.
CONTACT: Helen Dunn, Deputy Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer