Residents pushing for new Chesterfield elementary school to be named after longtime teacher

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — There’s a push to have a longtime Midlothian teacher put back on the list of potential names for a new elementary school in the county.

“She was just the ultimate teacher,” former student Peppy Jones told 8News. “She not only was loved, but she was also respected by every kid in her class.”

Virginia Justis retired from teaching at Midlothian High School after 34 years at the school, teaching thousands of kids during her tenure and supporting them through Winfree Memorial Baptist Church where she was a member.

“Virginia Justis was just a force of nature inside of the school system,” said Pastor David Benjamin.

It’s why a number of supporters in the community are hoping a new elementary school in Chesterfield will be named in her honor. But the school board voted to remove her name from consideration citing a policy adopted in 2009.

“Absent extraordinary circumstances, the school board will not consider naming a school or other facility for any individual unless the individual has been deceased for at least 10 years.”

School board members fear making an exception in this case could lead the board down a slippery slope in the future. The policy is meant to protect the school system from naming a building prematurely but supporters believe Justis is an exception considering the property the school will be built on was sold by her family.

“As this piece of property was her home for 65 years, it is only right, it is only fitting that this school be named for her,” Jones said.

Peppy Jones

Supporters are hoping that if enough people speak out, the board will reconsider putting her back on the list.

“If enough of us are strong enough, vocal enough, emphatic enough, and enough of us are, that frankly they’ll reconsider that,” said Benjamin.

“It means really that justice has been done for Ms. Justis,” Jones added.

They’re hoping enough people show up at the next school board meeting next month so the board reconsiders.

The other names under consideration are,

● Old Hundred Elementary School ○ This is the road on which the school is scheduled to be built. ○ Such a naming would be consistent with past school names based on geographic location.

● Hallsboro Elementary School ○ This is the geographic name given to the area that covers land from Mr. Hermon Road to Otterdale Road, including Old Hundred Road on which the school will be built. ○ Such a naming would be consistent with past school names based on geographic location.

● Lucille Cheatham Moseley Elementary School ○ A former teacher, Ms. Cheatham was the principal founder and former executive director of the Chesterfield Historical Society. Among her duties as executive director, she headed the Chesterfield County Museum and oversaw the renovation of Magnolia Grange. ○ Such a naming would be consistent with past school names based on individuals who had an impact on Chesterfield County or Chesterfield County Public Schools.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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