Glendale Elementary School will soon be renamed for Virginia Henderson, a longtime school psychologist there who died last year.
The Madison School Board Monday unanimously approved the renaming effort that began with a group of Madison residents early last spring shortly after Henderson’s April 2019 death.
A school psychologist from 1976 to 1991 at the school, Henderson finished her career in the Madison Metropolitan School District central office, where she spent six years as the special assistant to the superintendent for equity and diversity. She continued to consult with the district after her 1997 retirement.
MMSD lead psychologist Wendy Johnson spoke on behalf of the district’s school psychologist staff in favor of the renaming during the public comment Monday.
“I cannot imagine a more eminently qualified candidate for this memorialization,” Johnson said. “Her commitment to education and racial justice was unparalleled and remains an inspiration for all our staff.”
The naming committee co-chaired by Noble Wray and Mary Gulbrandsen is required by MMSD policy as part of any building renaming proposal. It was officially created in July and met between then and January to discuss the proposal, seek public input and make a final recommendation to the School Board, which it offered earlier this month.
Henderson was “on a first name basis” with Martin Luther King, Jr., while they both were at Boston University in the mid-1950s, according to a 1997 Cap Times story on her retirement. As she prepared to retire, she said she enjoyed her time in the district.
“I'm grateful to have served the school district and the many fine families, educators and children I've been fortunate to work with,” she said.
Interim superintendent Jane Belmore said during the Jan. 13 Operations Work Group meeting when the proposal was discussed that the cost “would be minimal” compared to renaming a high school, which would have more signage and uniforms that would need to be replaced.
School Board members said before voting they appreciated the community-led effort.
"It’s been really inspiring to see our community come together to champion the legacy of someone who gave so much of their life to our schools and our students," Ali Muldrow said. "I am proud to be part of the board that gets to make this decision.”
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