Guilford’s new school will be named after mathematician ‘Hidden Figures’ | Education

GREENSBORO — A NASA mathematician and civil rights pioneer is set to name new Guilford County schools after them.

The Guilford County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to name a planned new K-8 school in the southwestern part of the county after Katherine Johnson of ‘Hidden Figures’ fame and a planned ‘newcomer’ school in High Point for 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 school board named it Tuesday in honor of Johnson, who performed calculations for NASA missions including John Glenn’s 1962 Earth orbit and the 1969 moon landing. She was part of a series of black women who played prominent roles at NASA and were featured in Margot Lee Shetterly’s bestselling nonfiction “Hidden Figures,” which was later adapted into a film. She died in 2020 at the age of 101.

People also read…

Katherine Moore, Johnson’s youngest daughter who lives in Greensboro, spoke briefly at the school board meeting about her mother’s life.

“She was a woman of distinction,” Moore said. “She persevered, excelled and she was curious – all the things you’re going to want at this school.”

The new “newcomer” school, which will accommodate recent immigrant 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.

It will be named after Mendez, a Hispanic-American woman who helped pave the way for the desegregation of schools across the United States.

Mendez’s nomination drew a crowd of supporters to the District Central Office board room in Greensboro on Tuesday, including members of High Point’s Hispanic community.

As a girl growing up in California, Mendez 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 she travels the country lecturing on the desegregation effort.

Comments are closed.