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The Board of Education named the new elementary school in the southeast corner of the district at their regularly scheduled meeting on October 22, 2020. Dr. Justina Ford Elementary School will open in the fall of 2021.
Dr. Justina Ford (1871–1952) was the first licensed African-American female physician in Denver. She practiced gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics out of her home. She chose this location for her practice because, as an African-American woman, she was barred from working in hospitals and from joining the Colorado Medical Association. By the end of her career, she was allowed to join the Colorado Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and the Denver Medical Society. She was also allowed to work in Denver General Hospital. "Justina treated anyone who needed medical care, regardless of race, gender, language, citizenship, or ability to pay. Many of her patients were poor whites, African-Americans, and non-English speaking immigrants who were turned away from hospitals. Ford learned multiple languages to help treat her patients. Her patients paid her in goods, services, or money” (historycolorado.org).
Naming the new school was a community process and included participation from students, employees, families, community members, and LPS Key Communicators. Teresa Burden, the new school’s principal, created this video for the community to learn about Dr. Justina Ford and said, “We are super excited to have a name for our new school! We are so happy with the choice of the Board of Education.”
Board members weighed in prior to taking official action on the new name. “I would like to say thank you again to the students and the parents and community members that worked so hard on bringing these names forward, and they really had some wonderful names and wonderful ideas. I’m excited. This is that next big step that brings us to a new school in our community,” said Carrie Warren-Gully. Robert Reichard echoed her sentiments and added, “It is very rare that we [as Board members] get opportunities to do things that are going to last beyond our time [on the Board], and I’m so grateful to the committee for giving us such a great choice to make. I feel like both the options that we had were wonderful, and I’m very pleased with...Justina Ford, I think that’s a wonderful recognition of our local history.”
Next steps include working with the school community to choose a mascot and colors for the school.