Guilford School Could Be Named After ‘Hidden Figures’ Mathematician | Education

JESSIE BOOKS

GREENSBORO — A NASA mathematician and civil rights pioneer may have new Guilford County schools named after them.

Guilford County School Board Facilities Nominating Committee recommended that the new K-8 school in the southwest part of the county is named after Katherine Johnson of “Hidden Figures” fame and that a school planned for “newcomers” in High Point is named after Sylvia Mendez, who helped end school segregation in California.

The new K-8 building is one of eight major bond-funded school construction projects approved by voters in 2020. The building is also expected to house a regional science, technology, engineering and math center , which could be used by students from multiple schools. It is currently in the design phase.

The committee recommends that it be named after Johnson, who performed calculations for NASA missions, including John Glenn’s 1962 Earth orbit and the 1969 moon landing. It was one of a series of black women who played prominent roles at NASA and were featured in Margot Lee Shetterly’s best-selling non-fiction ‘Hidden Figures’, which was later adapted into a film. She died in 2020 at the age of 101.

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The new “new arrivals” school, which will welcome recently immigrated children, will be located in the Tomlinson Building on the campus of High Point Central High School. Like the Doris Henderson Newcomers School in Greensboro, the High Point school is intended to jump-start students’ English learning and help them acclimate before they transition to other schools in the district.

The committee recommends that it be named after Mendez, a Hispanic-American woman who helped pave the way for the desegregation of schools across the United States.

As a girl growing up in California, she was denied entry to a public school that did not admit Hispanic students. His parents fought back, joining other families and taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1947.

Mendez v. Westminster forced four local school boards to stop segregating Hispanic students and allowed Mendez to attend the school in question. The case set the precedent for Brown v. The Board of Education of the United States Supreme Court in 1954, which declared school segregation to be unconstitutional.

Mendez became a nurse and travels the country lecturing on the desegregation effort.

On Tuesday, school board members are expected to vote on accepting the nominations and post them for a 30-day public comment period ending May 12. If they vote, the nominations will then come back to the board for consideration on June 14. .

Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.​

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