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New SPS Preschool building will be named in honor of local educator, Adah Fulbright

Adah Fulbright

Springfield, MO—In a unanimous vote, the Springfield school board agreed to pay tribute to Adah Fulbright by naming the district’s new preschool building in her honor

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. It will be named the Adah Fulbright Early Childhood Center. “I was overjoyed,” said Betty Ransom, 1952 graduate of Lincoln High School, after the 7-0 vote.

Prior to the vote, the 85-year-old Ransom told the board that Fulbright — who taught her in the 1940s — deserved recognition and a place in Springfield’s history. “She devoted her life to her parents and to the thousands of children that she taught at Lincoln.”

A descendant of a pioneer Springfield family, Fulbright was born Dec. 1, 1873. She was part of the fourth graduating class of Lincoln High School in 1891 and attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Her legacy includes teaching elementary at both segregated Lincoln schools during the first half of the 1900s.

Mark Dixon, director of the Bartley-Decatur Neighborhood Center, located at 918 E Calhoun St, noted the honor is historic. He noted a middle school in the district is named for George Washington Carver but no existing schools are named for black men or women from Springfield. He described her as a “stately, God-fearing woman.” She was also a pianist and choir director at Gibson Chapel Presbyterian Church. Dixon also pointed out that Fulbright started teaching before the April 1906 lynching of three men in Park Central Square, which created pandemonium in the black community and led many families to flee to larger cities in the north.

“Imagine the courage, the commitment, the dedication it would take to show up Monday morning to a class in which some of your students might be absent, never to return, and yet follow-through on the Biblical admonition, we find in Revelation 3:2, to ‘Strengthen that which remains’ not only that day but for the next 40 years,” Dixon said.

Fulbright founded the Literary Calm Chat Club in 1928 to promote fellowship among young female teachers interested in discussing the works of black authors. This club provided books for black students who were not allowed to use the city public library. Fulbright taught until the end of the 1947-48 school year. She died Aug. 26, 1959, at age 85.

A plaque detailing Fulbright’s contributions will be part of the 36,000-square-foot center under construction just west of Carver Middle School on Battlefield Road.

It is expected to open in August 2020.

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