Forgotten History of the DC Public School That Taught a President's Daughter

WASHINGTON — In January 1977, the 9-year-old daughter of newly inaugurated President Jimmy Carter started classes in a three-story brick school in downtown D.C., improbably nestled between a maze of concrete and glass office buildings.

This was no posh private school.

While the children of high-ranking Washington officials customarily attended leafy, cloistered institutions in the District’s toniest enclaves, Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter took a different path: public school.

window.Site = window.Site || {}; window.Site.Gallery = window.Site.Gallery || {}; window.Site.Gallery.options = window.Site.Gallery.options || {}; window.Site.Gallery.options = { slides: [{"type":"photo","media":"
\n\t\n","caption":"

Amy Carter skips up the steps of First Baptist Church in D.C. with President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter in this March 1977 AP file photo. Carter’s decision to send Amy to the historic African-American Thaddeus Stevens Public Elementary School sparked a media circus at the time. Teachers remember the frenzy at first but also how normal school came to feel. Click through the gallery for more images of the first daughter as a D.C. public school student, her teachers and the school through the years. (AP photo)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

President Jimmy Carter’s decision to send Amy to public school was the subject of media attention before she even arrived. In this newspaper photo, taken from one of Verona Meeder’s scrapbooks, photographers capture the famously press-shy first daughter visiting her new school in December 1976 \u2014 about a month after Carter won the presidential contest. (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

In the first few weeks Amy was at Stevens, nearly everything was grist for the media-coverage mill, like the fact she was 12 minutes late on her first day of school. First lady Rosalynn Carter told reporters she just hadn’t anticipated D.C.’s traffic gridlock. (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

After the media frenzy of a president’s daughter in D.C. public schools settled down, things began to feel like a normal fourth-grade class. But there were special perks. Here Amy’s class enjoys a special visit to the White House for their very own Easter Egg Roll. Amy is the third from the left in the first row. (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Fourth-grade teacher Verona Meeder is seen teaching her fourth-grade class in the fall of 1976. Meeder retired in 1992 after 25 years of teaching in D.C. Public Schools \u2014 all but one of them at Stevens. (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

President Jimmy Carter poses for a photograph with students and staff members at Stevens Elementary. Jane Jackson Harley, the longtime school counselor who developed the school’s innovative “extended-day” program \u2014 the first at a D.C. school \u2014 is seen at the center of the photo. The program \u2014 along with the arrival of the president’s daughter \u2014 boosted enrollment in the historic school and saved it from imminent closure. (Courtesy Jane Jackson Harley)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Stevens’ counselor Jane Jackson Harley poses with Amy and another student on Stevens’ playground in 1977. Amy took part in the school’s extended-day program most days, where she took extra courses in computer programming, Spanish and photography. “She didn’t want to go home ever,” Harley said. (Courtesy Jane Jackson Harley)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

“Innovation saves inner-city school” trumpeted one local newspaper headline of the extended-day program devised by counselor Jane Jackson Harley, which boosted enrollment back into safe territory. “The enrollment went up … It just zipped, especially when they heard the president’s daughter was there,” Harley said. “That was it. The school was saved.” (Courtesy Jane Jackson Harley)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

These two photos \u2014 one from the cover of a February 1977 issue of Time magazine \u2014 show Amy with her dog, Grits. The springer spaniel pup was actually a gift from her fourth-grade teacher, Verona Meeder. Meeder’s dog had given birth to a dozen puppies on election night 1976, and she thought it only fitting she offer one to her newest pupil. (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

A newspaper profile of Amy’s fourth-grade teacher Verona Meeder from a November 1976 edition The Washington Post shortly after President-elect Jimmy Carter announced Amy would attend Stevens public elementary school in D.C. The picture shows Meeder clutching one of the puppies born on election night, and which she subsequently gave to Amy. (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

A letter 9-year-0ld Amy wrote to Verona Meeder in December 1976. The letter read in part: “I’m looking forward to being in your class. I would like have a puppy. I think they are cute. My mother is coming to Washington before Christmas. I hope I can come with her.” And it’s signed “Love, Amy C.” (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

The decision to send the president’s daughter to public school was the subject of intense public scrutiny. “Somehow it says something about the state of public education in America, or least in America’s big cities, when it becomes a matter of surprise that the President-elect’s daughter will attend public school,” states this newspaper article from Verona Meeder’s scrapbook. Meeder is misidentified in the sixth paragraph as “Veroona.” (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Stevens Elementary was a historic and historically black school. But a downtown office construction boom starting in the 1960s and an “extended day” program that drew children of parents who worked downtown and at nearby foreign embassies, shifted the makeup of the student population. At the time Amy Carter attended school there, about 60-70 percent of the students were black and about 10 percent were white. The remaining 30 percent were the children of foreign embassy workers. Commenting on the student body’s diversity, teachers referred to it as a “mini-United Nations.” (Courtesy Charles Sumner Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Amy Carter performing at a school assembly performance alongside her Stevens classmates. (Courtesy Jane Jackson Harley)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Amy Carter performing at a school assembly performance alongside her Stevens classmates. (Courtesy Jane Jackson Harley)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

First lady Rosalynn Carter meets with members of Stevens staff and instructors of the school’s special extended-day program. (Courtesy Jane Jackson Harley)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Inside the fourth-grade class at Stevens Elementary where Verona Meeder taught seen in a December 1976 photograph, about a month before Amy Carter moved to Washington. (Courtesy Verona Meeder)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

An undated photograph shows Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School. The school building was originally constructed in 1868, the first public school for African-American children paid for by public funds. Until it was shuttered by then-schools chancellor Michelle Rhee’s controversial reform measures in 2008, it was oldest surviving public school in D.C. still in operation. The brick building was painted white in the 1970s. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

A rendering of the original design of the school when it was constructed in 1868. Two wings were added to the Romanesque Revival building in 1885. A decade later, the Architect of the Capitol oversaw an extensive face-lift of the building’s facade. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

A 1980 photograph showing Stevens Elementary School a few years after Amy Carter attended there. The school was the cornerstone of D.C.\u2019s historically African-American West End community and a symbol of progress and achievement. Notable alumni include Charles Drew, a pioneer in the preservation of blood and plasma who led the American Cross Blood Bank during World War II, and Grammy-winning soul singer Roberta Flack. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

An undated photograph shows Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School. The school served as the anchor of the at-the-time predominantly African-American West End neighborhood. During World War II, the school principal was put in charge of handing out ration stamps, and the school even donated the bell from its loft for scrap metal. “To generations of black families here, [the school] was an object of pride, a symbol of high aspirations,\u201d The New York Times reported. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Beginning in the 1960s, modernist concrete and glass office complexes started going up in the neighborhood, crowding out the three-story 19th century brick building. This 1980 photograph shows the school next to the headquarters of the Washington Human Society, which was built in 1963. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Another view of Stevens Elementary in 1980, shortly after Amy Carter attended school there. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

These photos from the 1980s \u2014 a few years after Amy Carter attended school there \u2014 depict the school’s interior. The school had 14 large, high-ceilinged rooms. The fourth-grade classroom on the second floor Amy attended her first year was combined with the fifth-grade. (Courtesy\u00a0Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

These photos from the 1980s \u2014 a few years after Amy Carter attended school there \u2014 depict the school’s interior. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

These photos from the 1980s \u2014 a few years after Amy Carter attended school there \u2014 depict the school’s interior. The school had 14 large, high-ceilinged rooms. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

The school was named for Pennsylvania Sen. Thaddeus Stevens, a staunch abolitionist and radical Republican, who also advocated for free and universal public education. This photo from the 1980s shows a small exhibit inside school the honoring Stevens. (Courtesy Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Stevens Elementary as it looks today is now a construction site. In 2014, the D.C. Council approved a $20 million plan from developers Akridge and Argos to renovate the school and build a new 10-story office building adjoining the school. (WTOP\/Jack Moore)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Stevens Elementary, constructed in 1868, was the oldest public school in D.C. in operation until it was shuttered in 2008. It’s now a construction site. The D.C. Council approved a plan to renovate the school and construct an office building on its former playground. But a plan to move\u00a0a private special-needs school into the\u00a0building fell apart earlier this year. (WTOP\/Jack Moore)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Stevens Elementary is now tucked away by a chain-link fence, looking somewhat out of place amid downtown D.C. office buildings. (WTOP\/Jack Moore)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Verona Meeder seen in her Columbia, Maryland, home in June 2017. She retired in 1992 after 25 years of teaching in D.C. schools, all but one of them at Stevens Elementary. (WTOP\/Ginger Whitaker)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Jane Jackson Harley, the longtime school counselor at Stevens retired from the D.C. public school system in the 1980s and went back into the family business: entertainment. Working as a talent scout, Harley shuttered D.C.-area talent to performances at the Apollo Theater in New York. Among her discoveries? A teenage Dave Chappelle. (Courtesy Jane Jackson Harley)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

\n\t\n","caption":"

Rebecca Medrano, who taught Amy Carter and her class Spanish at Stevens Elementary went on to found, with her husband Hugh Medrano, D.C.’s GALA Hispanic Theatre company, one of the premiere Latino theaters in the U.S. (WTOP\/Jack Moore)\n"}], previews: [{"index":0,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/new-Stevens-260x174.jpg"},{"index":1,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_16-260x174.jpg"},{"index":2,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_18-260x174.jpg"},{"index":3,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_15-260x174.jpg"},{"index":4,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_17-260x174.jpg"},{"index":5,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/080817_stevens_2-260x174.jpg"},{"index":6,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/080817_stevens_7-260x174.jpg"},{"index":7,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/080817_stevens_3-260x174.jpg"},{"index":8,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_19-260x174.jpg"},{"index":9,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_21-260x174.jpg"},{"index":10,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_24-260x174.jpg"},{"index":11,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_20-260x174.jpg"},{"index":12,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_14-260x174.jpg"},{"index":13,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/080817_stevens_4-260x174.jpg"},{"index":14,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/080817_stevens_5-260x174.jpg"},{"index":15,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/080817_stevens_6-260x174.jpg"},{"index":16,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_25-260x174.jpg"},{"index":17,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_1-260x174.jpg"},{"index":18,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_2-260x174.jpg"},{"index":19,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_4-260x174.jpg"},{"index":20,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_3-260x174.jpg"},{"index":21,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_5-260x174.jpg"},{"index":22,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_6-260x174.jpg"},{"index":23,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_7-260x174.jpg"},{"index":24,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_carter_8-260x174.jpg"},{"index":25,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_9-260x174.jpg"},{"index":26,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_10-260x174.jpg"},{"index":27,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_11-260x174.jpg"},{"index":28,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_12-260x174.jpg"},{"index":29,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_13-260x174.jpg"},{"index":30,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_26-260x174.jpg"},{"index":31,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/080817_stevens_1-260x174.jpg"},{"index":32,"src":"http:\/\/wtop.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2017\/07\/063017_stevens_27-260x174.jpg"}], prev: "\t", next: "\t" };

The Carters’ decision to enroll Amy in the Thaddeus Stevens School, a historically African-American public elementary school whose attendance zone the Executive Mansion just happened to fall in, became the subject of intense media scrutiny.

After all, only one other president — Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 — had ever sent a first child to public school before. (And no president since, including fellow Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, has emulated Carter’s decision).

Even President Donald Trump for all that he has shaken up the D.C. routine, took a page from the establishment playbook when his administration announced in May his son, Barron, would attend the nearly $40,000-a-year St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, this fall.

With Barron Trump beginning his own unique back-to-school moment next month, WTOP is revisiting the fascinating history behind the D.C. public school that opened its doors to a president’s child 40 years ago and the pioneering educators who made it happen.

The Carters’ choice of schools turned modest Stevens elementary into one of the most famous schools in America seemingly overnight. But by all accounts the president and first lady were not interested in making a splash.

“The Carters were just nice, everyday kind of people,” recalled Jane Jackson Harley, the longtime school counselor, now 79, in an interview with WTOP.

Fourth-grade teacher Verona Meeder recalled an after-school White House visit the day Amy joined her class at Stevens. Just treat her like any other student, the president told her. And if she gives you any trouble, you give me a call.

“To me, it seemed liked just another family moved into the area,” Meeder, now 86, recalled in an interview.

At first a frenzy, but ‘Amy made it feel normal’

The day of school for a new student usually brings at least a few jitters. In this case, it also brought a Secret Service detail and a crush of TV and newspaper reporters.

Photographs and video of Amy’s first day of school a few days after her father’s inauguration show a pensive girl in jeans and a stocking cap walking past a rope line of furiously shuttering cameras.

“It was like the red carpet at the Grammys,” recalled Juan Herron, who was then a third-grader at Stevens.

During those first few weeks, reporters covered school field trips and the cafeteria’s lunch menu, and tour buses filled with sightseers crawled past the school aiming to catch a glimpse of the blonde, bespectacled 9-year-old at recess. The ’70s were clearly a less privacy-conscious era.

But things eventually settled down.

“We probably didn’t understand the significance of that being the president’s daughter — even though we knew who she was,” Herron, now 48, recalled.

She was just Amy.

Fourth-grade teacher Verona Meeder on teaching the first daughter

Download audio

“Amy made it feel normal, because she would do her work and then read her book,” Meeder said. “She always had a book on the corner of her desk. She never asked me what she could do. She just read.”

Other teachers describe her as a quiet, unassuming fourth-grader.

“Amy was very, just, normal,” recalled Rebecca Medrano, who taught Spanish for an after-school program at Stevens. “She was … not somebody who was going to be in your face and talk about being the president’s daughter. It wasn’t that important to her. There were other things she was thinking about — you know, being a kid.”

A kid being trailed by two Secret Service agents at all times. The agents turned a second-floor closet next to Meeder’s classroom into a makeshift office to watch the comings and goings. But they gave the first daughter space in the classroom.

“At first, I wasn’t aware of them,” Medrano said. “And I was like, ‘This is strange.’ I thought I would’ve had to go through a high-security clearance. Here I am taking a piñata in; it could’ve had a bomb, you know!”

Stevens' Spanish teacher Rebecca Medrano on the Secret Service presence at the school

Download audio

Amy made friends easily, inviting some to slumber parties at the White House. In fact, she seemed to get along with everyone, even the bullies.

“There’s a whole lot of mean boys in this school,” a then-8-year-old Herron, who was on the school “safety patrol” told a Washington Post reporter for a June 1977 article. “But nobody messes with Amy.”

‘We were about to close down’: History of a historic school

Aside from the roaming Secret Service detail, the most abnormal thing about the school may have been the late hours it stayed open thanks to an innovative “extended day” program.

The program — the first offered at a D.C. school — allowed parents who worked late in nearby office buildings to drop off their children early in the morning for a hot breakfast and pick them up as late as 6 p.m. in the evening.

Today, such extended day programs are common in urban school districts. In D.C., 30 public schools currently offer extended hours. But back then, such a program was unique. “I should’ve trademarked the name,” said Harley, the school counselor who developed the program.

Amy, who arrived several months after Stevens’ program rolled out, stayed late most days to take part in the extra classes, which included photography, computer lessons and Spanish.

Harley said she wasn’t necessarily trying to be cutting edge. She was trying to keep the school from closing its doors.

“We were having problems keeping the school open, because there were no children in the area,” Harley said. “We were about to close down. We were in trouble.”

The school had once been the cornerstone of D.C.’s historically African-American West End community and a symbol of progress and achievement. Constructed in 1868 and named for the crusading abolitionist senator Thaddeus Stevens, the school was the first in D.C. built with public funds to educate black children. Opened amid the height of Reconstruction in the South, its classrooms swelled with students as D.C.’s population surged with the migration of newly freed slaves north.

But by the 1960s, the tectonic plates of gentrification began to shift, and the neighborhood’s row houses and modest dwellings were razed to make way for office buildings and parking garages.

By 1976, the area surrounding Stevens “had become virtually an asphalt neighborhood,” according to a 1980s-era oral history of the school on file at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives.

Harley’s extended-day program turned the historic African-American neighborhood school into a sort of magnet school for the children of downtown office workers and boosted enrollment back into safe territory.

“The enrollment went up … It just zipped, especially when they heard the president’s daughter was there,” Harley said. “That was it. The school was saved.”

And having the president’s daughter signed up for D.C.’s first extended school-day program did have its perks.

When red tape threatened the program during its second year, parents packed a school meeting with the D.C. official responsible for doling out funding. One concerned mother in attendance: Rosalynn Carter. Within two days, funding was sorted out, according to a March 1978 Washington Post article.

A political stunt? ‘The Carters were not those kind of people’

The intersection of presidential privilege and a historically black public school could’ve been tricky territory. A few years earlier, President Richard Nixon’s 20-something daughter, Tricia, courted controversy attempting to “do something constructive,” when she tutored two black schoolchildren at the White House.

D.C. school board member Julius Hobson blasted the seemingly well-meaning gesture as “welfare colonialism,” and told a reporter: “I’m going to find out who in hell gave permission for her to take two black children from the school system.”

Did parents and teachers think the Carters’ choice to send Amy to a predominantly black school was a political stunt? No, Harley said. “The Carters were not those kind of people,” she said. ”

Many parents and teachers saw it as Carter living up to his ideals.

During his acceptance speech at the 1976 Democratic National Committee, Carter denounced the political elite who, from afar, shaped decisions that affected other people’s lives. “When the public schools are inferior or torn by strife, their children go to expensive private schools,” he said.

Spanish teacher Rebecca Medrano on Carter's choice of public school

Download audio

Not that quiet Stevens Elementary was torn by strife, but Carter wanted to be clear: Public school was good enough for a president’s daughter.

Still, Amy was living in a mansion down the street while about a third of her classmates qualified for free lunches.

Medrano recalled a tense exchange one afternoon during Spanish class. “Some kid was talking about ‘Oh, well, Amy has a pool, because she’s the president’s daughter. She’s just got everything. And we don’t have anything.”

Medrano sat the other students down for a discussion. “She’s just like you,” she told them. “This is not about being rich or being the president’s daughter. This is a program for all of you. And everybody’s special, not just Amy.”

But being a classmate of Amy Carter’s did come with some special opportunities, including a memorable field trip to the White House for the whole class for its very own Easter Egg Roll. The White House chef grilled up hot dogs and hamburgers. Later, Amy and her classmates roamed the grounds for a hand’s-on tour of her treehouse hideaway near the White House’s West Wing.

A photo in Meeder’s collection of scrapbooks captures the moment Amy and her Stevens classmates gathered for a class photo on the south lawn of the White House.

Amy’s off to the side — she always shunned center stage — grinning into the glare of the April sunlight alongside her classmates. For at least that day, just another Stevens student.

Where are they now?

Amy Carter transferred to a D.C. public middle school — Rose Hardy Middle School — after two years at Stevens. After her father left the White House in 1981, she moved back to Georgia, attended Brown University, got arrested protesting the CIA and, eventually, got an art degree. She married in 1996 and has a teenage son. Famously press shy, she rarely gives interviews and, through a representative for the Carter Center, declined to be interviewed for this article.

Herron, the 8-year-old on the school safety patrol went on to join the Marines and served during Desert Storm. Now, 48, he lives in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

A few months before she was hired to teach Spanish for Stevens’ extended-day program, Medrano, along with her husband, founded a small theater company out of their row house in Adams Morgan. They focused on featuring Latin American performers and playwrights. Now working out of a lavish space in the restored Tivoli Theater on 14th Street in Columbia Heights, GALA Hispanic Theater is one of the premiere Latino theaters in the U.S.

Harley, the counselor who spearheaded the extended-day program at Stevens, retired from the D.C. schools in the 1980s after an injury. The daughter of legendary radio DJ and concert promoter Hal Jackson, she went back into the family business, taking up as a talent scout and helping shuttle performers from the D.C. area to the famed Apollo Theater in New York. Among her discoveries: a teenage Dave Chappelle, whom she accompanied on his first stand-up gig at the Harlem theater.

Meeder, 86, lives in Columbia, Maryland, at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in Columbia, Maryland. She retired from teaching in 1992 after 25 years of teaching in D.C. public schools, all but one them at Stevens.

Stevens Elementary still sits near the corner of 21st and L Streets in downtown D.C. But it hasn’t seen any students strolling its halls for nearly a decade. And it’s now facing an uncertain future.

Perpetually bedeviled by low enrollment, Stevens officially closed in 2008 — a victim of then-schools chancellor Michelle Rhee’s controversial school reforms — and its student body merged with nearby Francis-Stevens middle school.

After years standing vacant, the D.C. Council in 2014 approved a nearly $20 million plan allowing developers to renovate Stevens and to build a new 10-story “trophy-class” office on its playground.

But a plan to move a private special-needs school into the building fell apart earlier this year.

At a community meeting last month, an official with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office told community leaders reopening Stevens as a public school is now the mayor’s top choice for the historic site.

The post Forgotten history of the DC public school that taught a president’s daughter appeared first on WTOP.

Read More

Copyright DC WTOP
Contact Us