Superintendent Brabrand Recommends Names for Mosby Woods ES

Recommendations for Changing Name of Mosby Woods ES

Dr. Brabrand offered the following names as his recommendation for the new name of Mosby Woods Elementary School at the October 22 School Board meeting:

(Update: On November 2, 2020, the City of Fairfax voted to rename Lanier Middle School as Katherine Johnson Middle School beginning in school year 2021-22. Among the criteria stated in Regulation 8170 for new names: The avoidance of names that could cause confusion with other schools in Fairfax County and/or with schools in adjoining jurisdictions and other areas of Virginia. Katherine Johnson will no longer be included in the Superintendent’s recommendation for Mosby Woods ES.)


Five Oaks

Name of the street on which the school is located.


Mary McBride

Mary Elizabeth McBride was born in 1847 in Pennsylvania. Following the American Civil War, the Freedmen’s Bureau established schools for the children of freed slaves in Fairfax County. The schools were financially supported by donations from the Religious Society of Friends, a Christian denomination commonly referred to as the Quakers.

“In March 1866, Jacob M. Ellis of the Philadelphia Society of Friends travelled to Vienna, Virginia, accompanied by Mary Elizabeth McBride, age 19, of Philadelphia. Mary had been engaged by the society as a teacher.” (Johnson)

Mary McBride began teaching in April 1866, after a building, originally located at Fairfax Station, was moved and reconstructed as a schoolhouse in what is now the City of Fairfax.

“Initially, public sentiment towards educating the freedmen was, in some areas, hostile. This was particularly true at Fairfax Court House. Mary McBride received considerable opposition to her school and suffered threats of violence when, on one or two occasions, stones were thrown at her on her way to the school house.” (Robison)

“There is certainly a great deal of talk, but that troubles me very little. There are some things that are very unpleasant here for me, but I am determined to stay here… It is not labor for me, as some would call it; I love the work.” – Mary McBride (Friends Intelligencer, V. 23, No. 16)

Mary McBride had two assistant teachers, namely Alice Sutton and Maggie Lewis.

“Mary McBride apparently suffered from some type of affliction of her eyes, which was serious enough to impair her vision and to periodically prevent her from teaching. During these intervals, the students were under the direction of Maggie Lewis.” (Johnson)

On January 29, 1869, Mary McBride married Clarence C. Ford in Washington, D.C. She continued to teach at the school in Fairfax until it was closed in the winter of 1870, due to lack of funding. After the founding of Fairfax County Public Schools in July 1870, a new school for African-American children was established in Fairfax. It does not appear that Mary McBride Ford taught in the Fairfax County public school system as her name is not found in any of our early records, however our records from that time are incomplete. In August 1871, Mary gave birth to the couple’s only child, Charles Vernon Ford. He served as the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County from 1897 to 1922. Mary McBride Ford died on August 3, 1912, in Montgomery County, Maryland, and was laid to rest in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C. For additional information about Mary McBride, see William Page Johnson, II’s article in The Fare Facs Gazette.



Barbara Rose Johns 

Barbara Rose Johns was born in New York City in 1935. She moved to Virginia during World War II to live on a farm with her grandmother. She spent most of her youth living and working on her grandmother’s, and later her father’s, farm.

After years of frustration with Prince Edward County school which she describes as having inadequacies such as poor facilities, shabby equipment and no science laboratories or separate gymnasium, Johns took her concerns to a teacher who responded by asking, “Why don’t you do something about it?” On April 23, 1951, Barbara Johns led her classmates in a strike to protest the substandard conditions at Robert Russa Moton High School. Her idealism, planning, and persistence ultimately garnered the support of NAACP lawyers to take up her cause and the cause of more equitable conditions for Moton High School. After meeting with the students and the community, the lawyers filed suit at the federal courthouse in Richmond, Virginia. The case was called Davis v. Prince Edward. In 1954, the case became one of five cases that the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed in Brown v Board of Education of Topeka when it declared segregation unconstitutional.

Following the strike, Barbara was sent to live with her Uncle Vernon Johns in Montgomery, Alabama, to finish her schooling. After graduating from high school, she attended Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and ultimately graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Barbara Johns went on to lead a quiet life; she married Reverend William Powell, raised five children and was a librarian in the Philadelphia Public Schools. Barbara Johns Powell died in 1991.




Among the reasons given for the Mosaic recommendation:

•           I am suggesting renaming our school Mosaic Elementary. A mosaic is a beautiful picture made from many different and unique pictures and pieces. We could still be the Mosaic Mustangs!

•           Mosaic is a wonderful symbol and representation of our community.

•           The word mosaic would represent the core of this school. The school is a cultural mosaic. With a mix of different cultures, languages and ethnicities that all belong.  

•           Mosaic is a perfect description of our school.