The Virginia L. Murray Elementary School community advisory committee has recommended that the school retain its current name. The committee, which began its naming review this past November, conducted two community-wide online surveys and held two public meetings before making its recommendation this week to the school division’s Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Haas.
In its report to Haas, the committee wrote, “Foremost in the minds of committee members was the need to include all stakeholders in our process, given the landmark importance of the school in our community and our desire to capture the perspective of all who will be affected by this decision.”
“We formed a large and diverse committee of 17 members from varied backgrounds, ages, genders and races. Included were Murray parents and teachers, administrators, school community members, and alumni—one of whom attended the school in its inaugural year in 1960 when it was an all-Black school serving grades 1-7,” the report added.
The committee’s report carries out a division-wide School Board policy directing Haas to appoint community advisory committees to review the names of all schools in the division that are named for individuals. The purpose is to ensure that the life’s work of the namesake reflects the division’s four values of excellence, young people, community, and respect.
The advisory committee noted that Virginia L. Murray was born in Albemarle County in 1897 and throughout her life, was a role model for tenacity and perseverance at a time when Black women faced many institutional barriers. In 1931, she was appointed Jeannes Supervisor of Elementary Education, becoming the first Black supervisor appointed in Albemarle County.
Ms. Murray died in 1959, one year before Murray Elementary School opened. In recommending that the school be named for her, co-workers at the time described her faithfulness, unselfishness, and devotion to duty.
“She ensured those students in need had food and clothes in the summer and heat and coats in the winter. She had a tremendous work ethic and it was said you could not spend five minutes in her presence without learning something,” said Teller Stalfort, the parent of a Murray student and the chair of the community advisory committee.
Stalfort said that more than 800 responses were received from the two online surveys and that nine out of 10 of those responses supported the school retaining its current name.
“Serving on the committee as its chair was a treasured experience,” she said. “It was an opportunity to see our school community come together around the values and mission we want for our children. Ms. Murray certainly was ahead of her time, and by a great deal. Today we talk about doing what she did nearly 100 years ago. She insisted on tailoring instruction to each individual student and she set expectations high, asking the best of every student,” Stalfort said.
As called for in the School Board’s naming review policy, Haas will take the committee’s recommendation under advisement and make his recommendation to the School Board next week, during their meeting on Thursday, April 1. The Board is expected to make the final decision on the school’s name at their meeting on April 22.
There are 13 schools in the division that are named for individuals, and Murray Elementary School is the fourth school to have completed a naming review. Information on the naming review policy, process, and all of the completed reviews can be found on the division’s School Naming Review website. Information specific to the Murray Elementary School naming review is posted on the School Naming Review: Murray Elementary School page.
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Strategic Communications Officer