Testimony of Catherine Blunt to the Board of Education, October 18, 2018

Presentation to the School Board of Education
Thank You, Dr. Hite

October 18, 2018
By Catherine Blunt, Retired Educator and Public School Advocate

Dr. Hite, this is a public thank you to you because you kept your word and you are making the Dr. Ruth Wright Hayre signage happen at Strawberry Mansion High School.

To commemorate this occasion in which members of the Strawberry Mansion Community and advocates publicly honor you for recognizing Dr. Hayre and memorializing her commitment to education and that North Philadelphia community, my testimony tonight includes presenting you with the following artifacts:

  • Your copy of Dr. Hayre’s autobiography with a “thank you” message signed by members of the “We are Mansion” community advocacy group.
  • A photo of the “Signage Committee”
  • A copy of my August 2018 Board of Education Testimony
  • A copy of tonight’s Board of Education Testimony

On August 16, 2018, I presented testimony to the Board of Education regarding Dr. Hayre’s legacy and shared her many accomplishments in which she was either the “First African-American” or the “First Female.” I requested signage be installed above Dr. Hayre’s portrait in the Strawberry Mansion foyer acknowledging her and memorializing the 1990 Board of Education re-dedication of the Mansion and Hill Schools as the Dr. Ruth Wright Hayre Educational Complex. At the conclusion of my presentation, you, Dr. Hite, announced you would make that signage happen.

In the afternoon of September 28, 2018, after several phone conversations; a committee was convened to discuss the proposed signage. The committee included: Alfred Howard (School District – Maintenance Manager), Rhett Boykins (School District – Painter Supervisor), Dr. Joseph Antonio (School District – Director of School Transitions), Tanya Parker (Strawberry Mansion Committeeperson and Strawberry Mansion High School Supporter), Sherri Brown (Community Activist and Strawberry Mansion High School Supporter), and me (retired educator and public school advocate). Principal McCracken could not attend because he was at the High School Fair recruiting students for Mansion’s 2019-2020 school year.

The committee discussed the signage, its layout, and maybe how to engage students in our efforts to revive Dr. Hayre’s Legacy for and in Strawberry Mansion High School. We even posed for pictures.

On Friday morning, that committee is reconvening to finalize the lettering with the signage being installed in the Strawberry Mansion foyer sometime in the near future. Additionally, at last night’s Strawberry Mansion’s Working Group Meeting (and prior to that meeting), I recommended that every Strawberry Mansion student receive a copy of Dr. Hayre’s autobiography. I also suggested her autobiography become required reading in every English class this year with the following possible and doable assignments:

  • Students identify Dr. Hayre’s many accomplishments.
  • Students write a reflective essay in which they imagine how Dr. Hayre’s life and achievements could positively influence their lives.