Miss Ethel Gildersleeve

b. 02 Dec 1898 - Newport News, VA
d. 24 Nov 1991 - Newport News, VA

Newport News High School Class of 1916
Farmville State Teacher's College Class of 1920
Columbia University: M.A.

Ethel Gildersleeve Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Office of University Advancement
Christopher Newport University
1 Avenue of the Arts
Newport News, VA 23606-3072

Did I ever mention that I own a 1925 NNHS Yearbook, then called "The Beacon"? The Class of 1925 dedicated it to Miss Gildersleeve and included a full page photo of her.  It is attached.  I know that she was loved and admired by generations of Typhoons; indeed, she was so uniquely associated with NNHS that it is difficult to think of one without also thinking of the other.

Also, a scholarship was established at CNU in her name
with private donations. See:
 http://www.cnu.edu/public/finaid/guide/needscholarships.html

So I thought it might be nice to display her photo
somewhere on the web page.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 03/31/03
And so do we.  Thanks, Dave!

1925 Beacon (yearbook) 1925 Beacon (yearbook)
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs
('64) of VA - 03/31/03
Thanks, Dave!
Courtesy of Richard Dawes (NNHS/HHS - '62) of VA - 10/11/05
Thanks, Dickie!
1964 Anchor, p. 5 This is a picture of Miss Gildersleeve from the 1989-90 Gildersleeve Middle School yearbook.  My daughter was an 8th grade student there the first year it was open.  The yearbook, appropriately called The Beacon, was dedicated to her and this was the picture printed in the yearbook, along with the narrative that follows. Saturday, October 4, 2003 
Greenlawn Cemetery, 25th Street and Parish Avenue, Newport News, VA
06/06/02 - Sandi Bateman Chestnut ('65) of VA - 06/29/03
Thanks, Sandi!
Image by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 10/06/03
Thanks so much, Dave!

HEADLINE: SCHOOL NAMED FOR BELOVED TEACHER

Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2001
Section: Family Life
Page: D7

By PERNELL WATSON Daily Press

TEXT: Q: I enjoyed your column on B.C. Charles Elementary School and how it got its name. Can you do the same for Gildersleeve Middle School? -- Q.A., Hampton

A: The Newport News middle school, located on Roys Lane near Todd Field, is named for Newport News native Ethel M. Gildersleeve.

In 1989, the Newport News School Board received a petition with 900 signatures asking that the school be named for Gildersleeve. Later that year, a crowd of about 1,200 gathered at the school to pay tribute to the educator during the school's dedication.

Gildersleeve grew up in the 600 block of 32nd Street in the city's East End. She was teacher, dean of girls and assistant principal at Newport News High School where she served from 1920 until her retirement in 1964. Former students loved Gildersleeve and were inspired by her. More than 1,200 showed up for a Newport News High reunion to honor her in 1977. About 4,000 showed up in 1986 to hear her address a group of alumni.

In 1993, a Newport News alumni group established the Ethel M. Gildersleeve Memorial Scholarship.

The scholarship was established to provide funding for financially needy students planning to attend Christopher Newport University.

Gildersleeve died in 1991. She was 92.
 

Article courtesy of Jimmy Walker ('62) of VA 
Thanks, Jimmy!

ETHEL M. GILDERSLEVE  1898 - 1991

by

Charles H. Bogino

Published in the Daily Press November 25, 1991

       

Miss Gildersleeve left no children of her own when she died Sunday morning November 24 at the age of 92.  But the retired Newport News educator left behind thousands of former students who loved and revered her.

        For more than seven decades, Miss Gildersleeve touched the lives of schoolchildren.  As a teacher, high school administrator, and even in retirement as an advocate for students, she earned something that meant more to her than plaques and certificates  --  their love.

        "She knew them all, and they knew her," said John M. Caywood, former principal at the now-defunct Newport News High School, where Miss Gildersleeve spent her career.  "She knew everything about them.  She was their advocate."

        The daughter of a night watchman at Newport News Shipbuilding, Miss Gildersleeve grew up in the 600 block of 32nd St. in the city's East End.  After graduation from Newport News High in 1916, she left the city for Farmville State Teacher's College - now Longwood College.  She returned to her alma mater in 1920 to teach math.  She also started teaching Sunday School at First Presbyterian Church.

        "Why, nothing else ever occurred to me," Miss Gildersleeve once said of her choice to return to Newport News.  "You'd think it was like the Dead Sea, coming back.  But it wasn't.  And it was just wonderful to see the children of the children I taught."

        She rose to the position of dean of girls at the high school in 1932.  But even the boys felt her influence.

        "She always had a beautiful sense of humor, always would put some extra effort forth to help everybody," said Alfred "Buck" Soter, a Newport News High School graduate.  "I don't know a teacher who had the respect for students she had.  She was one of the most outstanding ladies I have ever met."

        She went quietly about such tasks as helping clothe needy students and giving pep talks to students who needed them.  Along the way, she continued to take courses and eventually earned a master's degree from Columbia University.  She sought no accolades for her work, said former students and people who knew her.  But she got them nevertheless.  PTAs, community associations, civic leaders all honored her at one point or another during her career.

        Her title would change to assistant principal before she retired in 1964.  But her work continued.  Her love for Newport News High was only surpassed by her love for the many students she had come in contact with throughout her career as an educator -- even after it had ended.

        "She would stop by and talk with students, and they were disappointed when she was unable to make it to a special event." said Jean Beckerdite, principal of the Newport News middle school behind Todd Athletic Field named in Miss Gildersleeve's honor.  "There was a true sense of caring among the students for her."

        Indeed, since Gildersleeve Middle School was dedicated two years ago, she had sent personal greetings to every student who made the honor roll or were otherwise singled out by the school for achievements.  Beckerdite said that was more than 500 notes to Gildersleeve School students last year alone.  "I know because we bought her the note cards, and she said she ran out, so we bought her some more,"  Beckerdite said.

        The former students kept coming back, too.  More than 1,200 showed up for a Newport News High reunion to honor her in 1977.  About 4,000 showed up in 1986 to hear her address a group of alumni.

        She stayed active, her friends said, even mowing her own lawn with a push mower and raking leaves in the yard of her Wythe home.

        "It was her willingness always to be looking forward rather than backward," said Richard McMurran, one of her former Sunday school students and a member of a group that took Miss Gildersleeve to lunch every month.  The group had been planning a lunch date at Althous Delicatessen for her birthday.  On Dec. 2, Miss Gildersleeve would have been 93.

        As recently as last week, she again was honored for her commitment to education, as one of six Virginians recognized by the state PTA for their involvement with children.  "No adult has the right to say a child is doomed," Miss Gildersleeve said in a 1977 interview.  "We mustn't give up on our children."

        That attitude, said former Newport News High principal Caywood, is what set Miss Gildersleeve apart and is the kind educators can learn from.  "She's the kind we're all supposed to be, but most of us unfortunately don't always measure up," said Caywood, who retired in 1988 as principal of Menchville High.  "We should all live so well and die so gracefully."

 

 

TEARS FROM THREE GENERATIONS

by

Ronnie Crocker

Published in the Daily Press

December 4. 1991

 

        Ethel M. Gildersleeve was remembered Tuesday as a teacher who cared about her students long after they graduated.

        About 175 students, former students, teachers, administrators and local officials paid their respects Tuesday afternoon to Miss Gildersleeve, who died Nov. 24 at the age of 92.  During and after a brief memorial service in the Gildersleeve Middle School auditorium, she was recalled lovingly by three generations of students.

        "I remember distinctly getting my first 100 on an exam in geometry under her," said 72 year-old Ruth Olney, a member of the Newport News High School Class of 1935.
    Olney said Miss Gildersleeve made sure she and her friends kept their grades up, but she also lent a hand with non-academic pursuits as well, like getting ready for prom night.  Her concerns went "beyond the expectations of a teacher."

        Their relationship lasted long after graduation.  "At those poignant times in my life, she was there," said Olney.  "When my husband died; and when my child experienced an accident in her early years.  She was a friend who was and always will be close by."

       Olney was just one of the many students who received personal notes from Miss Gildersleeve over the years.  William B. Williams, Jr., who recently retired as Newport News' director for middle school curriculum, was in the Class of 1957.  He got a note from his "mentor" with every promotion in the school system.

        "Thank you Miss Gildersleeve for being the lady that you were," he said in tribute.

        Miss Gildersleeve was born in Newport News on Dec. 2, 1898.  She graduated from Newport News High School in 1916 and went on to the State Teachers College at Farmville, now Longwood College.  After graduation she returned to Newport News High as a math teacher.  She remained there for 44 years until her retirement in 1964.

        During that time, Miss Gildersleeve also served as dean of girls and assistant principal.  She was faculty advisor to the student council for many years.

        Even after retirement, she remained involved with children.  Victor Moore, an eighth-grader at Gildersleeve, and Mason Blackwell, a ninth-grader at Menchville High School, were among her newest friends.  Both met her through the school, and both received several notes of encouragement during the three years they knew her.

        "I felt like it came from the heart," said Blackwell,  "I don't know what this school will be like without her," he said.
       Principal Jean H Beckerdite said Miss Gildersleeve was always the "biggest cheerleader" for the school that was named for her in 1989.  She urged those gathered in Gildersleeve's honor to heed the woman's lessons of kindness and encouragement.  "She would not want us to grieve this afternoon, but to look to the future and be cheerleaders for each other."

Attached are two Daily Press articles published just after the death of Ethel Gildersleeve

I looked through the Web Site's NNHS Staff section and didn't see these.

In my time (1941-45) we all knew Ethel from her important presence in NNHS matters. 
But I remember her best from the "snow days" when school would be cancelled for the day. 
Ethel lived on Greenbrier Avenue, a few blocks from the Newport News City Limits at Pear Avenue (where I lived at no. 59). 
She would ride on that 8:20 bus and stand in front by the door. 
At each stop she would tell any students about to board: "Go home, no school today." 
In later years when I reminded her of this, she could not recall those good deeds. 
Apparently her great modesty did not allow room in her memory for such trivia. 

 - Fred Field ('45) of CA - 02/08/05
WOWZERONI!  Thanks, Fred!


 
Reading about Miss Gildersleeve in today's newsletter brought back a very special memory. After graduation from NNHS in 1959, I graduated from college in three years and then returned to NNHS in the fall of 1962 to fulfill my dream. I loved NNHS and I loved Miss Gildersleeve. She was a tremendous influence on my life and kept me on the right path during my adolescence. At the end of the school day, after the Speech Club meeting, or intramural hockey, or some other after school activity, I'd go to my locker on the third floor near my homeroom 308. The halls were quiet and the afternoon sun slanting into the hall through those huge windows in the stairwell glinted on the floor. As I gathered my books and things together, and traipsed down the stairs to start the walk home, I'd dream about returning to NNHS to teach. I would imagine myself among the Miss Frees, the Miss Suttles, the Miss Helmers, the Miss Maguires, the Mrs. Conns, the Miss Floyds, every single one of them, in that magnificent pantheon of great teachers. It seemed to me there could be no greater honor than to walk among them as their fellow faculty member.

In the fall of 1962 I began my teaching career at NNHS. I learned from the masters how to teach. I had the same planning period as Mary Helmer, Mickey Maguire, Eliza Wise, Jen Lou Pully, Margaret Lane, Pop Wheary. They took me under their wing and taught me how to teach.

I had accomplished my dream of returning to NNHS, but if I thought that like Athena who sprang full grown from the head of Zeus, that upon my return to NNHS, I would spring full grown as a teacher in the classroom, I was to find out otherwise. I had a lot to learn.

That first September of my teaching career, I had a C period eighth grade history class that met on the first floor hall leading to the cafeteria. I think it was room 116. The students were usually chatty, and I would try to get their attention by talking over their voices. Miss Gildersleeve passed by the door, which was usually open, everyday on her way to lunch. One day she called me to her office after school. She told me that when teachers spoke in a loud tone of voice students just tune out. She said that when teachers used quieter, softer tones of voice, then students have to work harder to hear and so they listen. Thus did the lessons she taught continue to influence and mold me.

In later years when I became a high school assistant principal, Miss Gildersleeve was my model. It was her spirit and her lessons and her influence that continued to guide and inspire my practice. My deepest desire was to give, as an assistant principal, the students with whom I worked what Miss Gildersleeve had given to me. One night at a gathering of parents at the high school where I was working, a parent, who was a graduate of NNHS and so knew Miss Gildersleeve, gave me the greatest gift I could ask for. Talking to me privately, the parent, with whose child I had worked closely, called me the Miss Gildersleeve of his child's school. Although I was humbled at the sentiment and felt undeserving of such an accolade, for who could fill Miss Gildersleeve's shoes, I knew there could be no greater tribute to my work.

Whatever small good I may have done in the years I worked in schools, whatever small benefit my work may have been to students and their families, I owe to Miss Gildersleeve. She was my mentor, my inspiration, my guide, my hero. I loved her and always will. I pray that my work in schools was a credit to her.
 
 
 

- Aretie Gallins Patterson ('59) of Northern VA - 10/13/05
WOW. That is incredibly beautiful, Aretie. Thank you so much!
 


As for Miss Gildersleeve, I guess I was one of the few who was never intimidated by her.  My first encounter with her was when I was called to her office on my first day of 8th grade.  She informed me that she remembered my Mother and expected me to excel as she did.  Uh oh, she knows Mom, oh dear, was my first thought!!  From then on, she really did keep tabs on me and always with her delightful smile.

- Renee Helterbran Benton ('59) of VA - 10/17/05
Thanks, Renee!
 



Hi Carol,

Iíve been asked by Allan Hanrahan (NNHS Ď55) and his wife Renee Koskinas Hanrahan (NNHS Ď56)  to send you the following information on Memorial Endowed Scholarships at Christopher Newport University.  The scholarships were established in honor of two NNHS educators who were quite instrumental in our lives, and these scholarships will continue to assist CNU students in their educational endeavors.  Contributions can be made at any time by NNHS Alumni and any others who would like to make a donation to honor the memories of Coach Conn and Miss Gildersleeve.  

"NNHS Alumni will be interested to know that there are memorial endowed scholarships at Christopher Newport University in the names of  Ethel M. Gildersleeve and Julius Conn.

Anyone interested in contributing to either scholarship is invited to contact Lucy Latchum, Director of Major and Planned giving, at (757) 594-7702 or llatchum@cnu.edu.ď 

Thanks, Carol.   Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Typhoons forever,

Carolyn Simpson Knight ('56) of VA - 12/11/06
WOWZERONI!!!  Thanks, Carolyn!
 

 

Carol,
 
This passage from the excellent D-Day memory in Friday's Newsletter resurrected another memory of my own.
===========================
"the self conscious student helper who dragged the microphone onto the stage and tested the PA system.

As was traditionally the case in our assemblies, some opening remarks were made by Dean of Girls Ethel Gildersleeve. She then very quickly introduced our Principal, Lamar R. Stanley." 

===========================
It indicates that there was a PA system being used and that Miss Gildersleeve introduced the principal.  I wonder if she even used the PA system or if she did there what she did at our 30-Year Class of 1960 reunion in the summer of 1990.
 
Miss Gildersleeve attended and spoke at that reunion.  We picked her up in a white stretch limousine and brought her to it.  When it was her turn to speak on the stage in the large room that we were using at the Omni Hotel, she was handed the microphone and immediately the PA system started squealing a little bit.  She looked sternly at the mike (and I bet that some of her can remember her looking at YOU that way) and it chirped once again.  She then threw the microphone across the stage and onto the floor and the noise from that woke up anyone who was sleeping, that I can tell you!  Then she said in that big voice that she had that she did not need a microphone and nobody really did if they would just speak to the back of the room. 
 
She proceeded to give a fairly lengthy but thoroughly enjoyable, partly funny and partly serious message without the assistance of that microphone which she said she never liked or trusted and I can tell you that everyone heard it easily whether they were on the front row or in the very back of the room. Even at the age of 92 and just a year before she died her voice was strong and her mind and wit was sharp!  Truly a great lady who is missed by all.

- Al Simms ('60) of VA - 06/06/08
WOWZERS - thanks for sharing that with us, Al!

 


BELOVED NN EDUCATOR GILDERSLEEVE DIES

Daily Press (Newport News, VA) - November 25, 1991
Author: CHARLES H. BOGINO Daily Press
 
Ethel Mae Gildersleeve left no children of her own when she died Sunday morning at the age of 92, but the retired Newport News educator left behind thousands of former students who loved and revered her.

For more than seven decades, Miss
Gildersleeve touched the lives of schoolchildren. As a teacher, high school administrator, and even in retirement as an advocate for students, she earned something that meant more to her than plaques and certificates - their love.

``She knew them all, and they knew her,'' said John M. Caywood, former principal at the now-defunct Newport News High School, where Miss
Gildersleeve spent her career. ``She knew everything about them. She was their advocate.''

The daughter of a night watchman at Newport News Shipbuilding, Miss
Gildersleeve grew up in the 600 block of 32nd Street in the city's East End. After graduation from Newport News High in 1916, she left the city for Farmville State Teacher's College - now Longwood College. She returned to her alma mater in 1920 to teach math. She also started teaching Sunday school at First Presbyterian Church.

``Why, nothing else ever occurred to me,'' Miss
Gildersleeve once said of her choice to return to Newport News. ``You'd think it was like the Dead Sea, coming back. But it wasn't. And it was just wonderful to see the children of the children I taught.''

She rose to the position of dean of girls at the high school in 1932. But even the boys felt her influence.

``She always had a beautiful sense of humor, always would put extra effort forth to help everybody,'' said Alfred Buck Soter, a Newport News High School graduate. ``I don't know a teacher who had the respect for students she had. She was one of the most outstanding ladies I have ever met.''

She quietly went about such tasks as helping clothe needy students and giving pep talks to students who needed them. Along the way, she continued to take courses and eventually earned a master's degree from Columbia University. She sought no special accolades for her work, said former students and people who knew her.

But she got them nevertheless. PTAs, community associations, civic leaders all honored her at one point or another during her career.

Her title would change to assistant principal before she retired in 1964.

But her work continued. Her love for Newport News High was only surpassed by her love for the many students she had come in contact with throughout her career as an educator - even after it had ended.

``She would stop by and talk with students, and they were disappointed whenever she was unable to make it to a special event,'' said Jean Beckerdite, principal of the Newport News middle school behind Todd Athletic Field named in Miss
Gildersleeve 's honor. ``There was a true sense of caring among the students for her.''

Indeed, since
Gildersleeve Middle School was dedicated two years ago, she had sent personal greetings to every student who made the honor roll or were otherwise singled out by the school for achievements. Beckerdite said that was more than 500 notes to Gildersleeve students last year alone.

``I know because we bought her the note cards, and she said she ran out, so we bought her some more,'' Beckerdite said.

The former students kept coming back, too. More than 1,200 showed up for a Newport News High reunion to honor her in 1977. About 4,000 showed up in 1986 to hear her address a group of alumni.

She stayed active, her friends said, even mowing her own lawn with a push mower and raking leaves in the yard of her Wythe home.

``It was her willingness always to be looking forward rather than backward,'' said Richard McMurran, one of her former Sunday school students and a member of a group that took Miss
Gildersleeve to lunch every month.

The group had been planning a lunch date at Althaus Delicatessen for her birthday. On Dec. 2, Miss
Gildersleeve would have been 93.

As recently as last week, she again was honored for her commitment to education, as one of six Virginians recognized by the state PTA for their involvement with children.

``No adult has the right to say a child is doomed,'' Miss
Gildersleeve said in a 1977 interview. ``We mustn't give up on our children.''

That attitude, said former Newport News High principal Caywood, is what set Miss
Gildersleeve
apart and is the kind educators can learn from.

``She's the kind we're all supposed to be, but most of us unfortunately don't always measure up,'' said Caywood, who retired in 1988 as principal of Menchville High. ``We all should live so well and die so gracefully.''

Funeral arrangements, which will be handled by Peninsula Funeral Home, were incomplete Sunday.
 
 

ETHEL
GILDERSLEEVE

HAMPTON - Ethel M.
Gildersleeve, 92, a retired Newport News educator, died Sunday, Nov. 24.

Funeral at 1 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church, Newport News, by Dr. Eugene S. Soud. Burial in Greenlawn Cemetery, Newport News.

Memorials to First Presbyterian Church, 215 32nd St., Newport News 23607. Arrangements by Peninsula Funeral Home, Newport News.

Published in the Daily Press on 11/26/1991.
 

 

Hi Carol --


I ran across some interesting history when going through Dadís papers recently.

NNHS served as one of the Newport News WWII draft registration offices, and Ms. Gildersleeve was the Registrar!

You may have documented this previously, but I missed it.



A copy of Dadís draft card is attached Ė dated 10/16/40, exactly 1 month after Roosevelt re-instated the draft.

- Ron Miller ('59) of NC - 10/29/13

  WOWZERONI-RINI! Thanks so much, Ron!

You'll Never Walk Alone

- Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, !945


When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone


 "You'll Never Walk Alone" midi courtesy of http://n2rainbows.homestead.com/MidiPageY.html 
at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/13/05
Oh, how beautiful!  Thanks, Dave!

 "You'll Never Walk Alone" lyrics (and history) courtesy of http://www.boscarol.com/nina/html/where/youllneverwalkal.html - 02/09/05

Death Notice and Obituary added on 06/07/08

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