Virginia Henderson.jpg

Virginia Henderson is pictured at the I Have A Dream Ball held at the Monona Terrace in Madison on Jan. 15, 2006.

Though the Madison School Board still has to vote later this month, some board members indicated support Monday for renaming Glendale Elementary School in honor of Dr. Virginia Henderson.

Former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, who co-chaired the citizens’ naming committee leading the effort, said the committee believes Henderson “exceeds all the interests identified” in district policy on renaming schools.

“(She) is a person that is an outstanding role model for current and future Glendale and Madison Metropolitan students,” Wray said, reading from the group’s formal recommendation.

The School Board is expected to vote at its Jan. 27 meeting.

Henderson worked at the school from 1976 to 1991 as a psychologist. She then moved to the district 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 retiring in 1997.

Henderson died in April 2019.

The naming committee, required as part of any building renaming proposal by MMSD policy, was created in July 2019 and most recently met Jan. 7 and Jan. 10 to discuss public input on the name and make its recommendation to the School Board.

A 1997 Cap Times story on her retirement stated Henderson was “on a first name basis” with Martin Luther King, Jr., while they both were at Boston University in the mid-1950s. 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.

Committee co-chair Mary Gulbrandson said the renaming “will be a celebratory event for the entire community.”

“Dr. Henderson dedicated her work to all children, but she had a particular commitment to children of color and those with disabilities,” she said.

School Board member Ali Muldrow said “it’s an incredible opportunity for us as a district” to consider how it names its schools and who it honors.

“I’m proud to get to be part of the group of people that’s here while you all pull this together,” Muldrow said.

Interim superintendent Jane Belmore said the cost of renaming “would be minimal” compared to a high school, which would have more signage with the former name that would need to be replaced.

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Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.