WASHINGTON – Professor Emerita at the Howard University School of Education Lois Harrison-Jones, EdD has been honored by the Richmond, Virginia School Board with the renaming of a school in her honor as John B. Cary Elementary School has become Lois Harrison-Jones Elementary School. The move comes after the school board moved to rename four schools in the district named for Confederate soldiers and/or former slave owners.
A West Moreland, Virginia native, Harrison-Jones spent 34 years teaching and training teachers in the Richmond school district. She then went on to hold major positions in school districts around the country. She was the first female superintendent in Richmond Public Schools and the first Black female superintendent in both Virginia and Massachusetts.
At school board hearings, community members and educational professionals from Richmond sent letters and gave testimony in support of the school's name change. “The hallmark of Dr. Lois Harrison-Jones’ tenure as a teacher and administrator spans every educational genre. The fact that Dr. Harrison-Jones served Richmond’s educational community for so many years, in every educational capacity, speaks volumes for the appropriateness of naming a school in her honor,” said Thomasina Binga, community affairs specialist in Richmond Public Schools.
Harrison-Jones began her career in Richmond as a middle school teacher before moving on to work as an instructional coordinator in the district’s central office, where she trained new teachers and assisted veteran teachers in classroom management. Soon after, she worked as the assistant principal and principal at Baker Elementary for nine years, turning a poor performing school in a low-income neighborhood into one of the top performing schools in the city. Her success as a school administrator led to her eventual appointment as superintendent of the Richmond Public School District. She was then recruited to Dallas and Boston before arriving at Howard.
In the early 2000s, Harrison-Jones came to Howard University to help in developing the Doctor of Education program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the School of Education. The EdD program trains students to tackle inequities in education and prepares a network of leaders to take on positions as superintendents, particularly in districts that serve large, diverse populations. The content of the course also contributed to curriculum for Howard University’s Urban Superintendent Academy established in 2015. The academy serves to tackle inequities in educational leadership by developing a network of leaders to take on positions as superintendents, particularly in districts that serve large, diverse populations.
Since its launch, the academy has helped Black leaders in education secure positions as superintendents in some of the largest school districts in the country.
“I felt that once I was no longer in active duty that I owed it to others who were aspiring to learn from someone who had been there,” said Harrison-Jones. “You need to keep yourself grounded and rooted in what you want to do, and I felt that mentoring was the best thing for me.”
Harrison-Jones has had an illustrious career in education serving in school districts across the country and engaging in research internationally. With a career characterized by dedication, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to educational excellence, Harrison-Jones has not only reshaped the educational institutions she has been a part of but has also inspired countless individuals through her remarkable journey.
“Dr. Harrison Jones has equipped our students with knowledge to advance student achievement and empowered them to see the positive value of their leadership. Her legacy of leadership development at Howard is undeniable. We are so proud to see the city of Richmond acknowledge her contributions to the field of education,” said Dawn Williams, dean of the Howard University School of Education.
Lois Harrison-Jones with school administrators
Students at Lois Harrison-Jones Elementary School
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced two Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American PhD. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu