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Women Century



December 7, 2020

The Vance Elementary School Renaming Task Force presented its final name recommendation to the Asheville City Board of Education during their December 7th meeting.  

After conducting their own research, meeting with local historians and hearing the thoughts and feelings of our students, staff, families and greater school community, they suggested Vance Elementary School be renamed Lucy S. Herring Elementary School. 

Lucy Herring, Teacher and PrincipalHerring dedicated 52 years of her life to teaching, 35 in Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools.  A Black female educator, she began her career at just 16 in a one-room Swannanoa school house before moving to Hill Street School in 1920 and later Stephens-Lee High School.  In 1941, Herring became the principal at Mountain Street – a school that was later named after her – and was one of the district’s first Black administrators, eventually overseeing segregated elementary schools for both districts.  In 1961, Mountain Street School was rebuilt and named Lucy S. Herring School.  For six years, the school served local Students of Color before closing in 1967 following court-ordered integration.

Per previous communication, the Renaming Task Force narrowed down its list of suggestions from more than twenty to just five in early November.  

Although all five were incredible Black female educators who faithfully served the students and families of Asheville City Schools, they ultimately decided on Lucy S. Herring believing the work of Christine Avery, Gladys Pierce Fornery, Elynora M. Foster and Florence Green was capable because of Herring’s lasting legacy.  

You can learn more about Herring through this virtual presentation moderated by Vance Elementary School 5th Grader Mackenzie Bulfer.  

Whereas the task force recommends naming the school after Lucy S. Herring, they also believe it’s important to honor all five educators and suggest a plaque could hang in a prominent place within the school explaining not only the purpose behind its remaining but also serve as a marker celebrating the contributions all five women made. 

The Asheville City Board of Education first approved beginning the school’s renaming process in June 2020.  Representing a wide array of perspectives that make Vance Elementary School such a unique place to work, learn and grow, a task force was created.  Made up of representatives from current Vance students, Vance alumni, teachers, staff members, families, future families as well as community members, they were charged with seeking input.  You can read more about this process here

Following today’s recommendation, the task force hopes the Board will approve the school’s new school name during its February 2021 meeting.

Photo from Special Collections at the University of North Carolina at Asheville     CLICK FOR UNC ASHEVILLE SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND ARCHIVES

SheVille Team

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