Feedback on Proposal to Change the Name of Mosby Woods Elementary School

Community Input on Name Change

Disclaimer:  The comments below published here do not necessarily reflect the views of Fairfax County residents. Because these comments went to a general email address, FCPS has no way of determining if the respondents reside in Fairfax County.

Emailed Comments

I wanted to share my feelings regarding the renaming of Mosby Woods Elementary School, where my daughter attends second grade. First, I very much support the renaming. Secondly, I wanted to voice my support for Katherine Johnson as the best choice for the new name.  I recognize there is some opposition to naming schools after people however, a) there are other elementary schools named after people in FCPS and b) I think it is worth giving our children schools named after strong people of intellect and character who can inspire them to lead good lives. As the mother of a child of color, I can think of few better examples of this than Katherine Johnson, a person who she is familiar with and respects. I don't think we should shy away from naming our buildings and communities after worthwhile individuals, just because in the past, people have made poor choices when choosing those names. Katherine Johnson is not a controversial or political figure, rather she is someone who can serve as an inspiration to all our students.

My kid goes to Mosby.  Please, please, PLEASE do not rename the school after a person.  LOTS of people have made great contributions to society, in many fields.  But all people - and history - are nuanced and complicated, and opinions and perceptions change over time.  MWES is a marvelous hodge podge of backgrounds and cultures in its own right.  Why pick one individual, knowing that such a choice will inherently only be able to highlight one particular population or area of admirable achievement?  Particularly in this year that has already been so challenging in so many ways, please consider picking something neutral, such as another location (like Five Oaks Elementary), or a trait or concept with a universally positive connotation that the candidates highlighted - and other historical or future icons with different backgrounds - might share (Prosperity?  Tenacity?  Mettle?  Resilience?  Courage?  Fortitude?  Unity?). 

Thank you for taking the time to change the name of Mosby Woods. I have two comments:  1. While Mosaic is a great name as for what it represents, I think it would be confusing with the Mosaic District that is 5 miles away. Many people in the area would associate the name Mosaic with the shopping/eating area and think the school is in that vicinity. I suggest another name that has the same idea but doesn’t have an “area” that while nearby isn’t near the school.  2. Five Oaks is a sound, safe name… but it’s initials would be FOES.

I am a 6th grade teacher at Mosby Woods Elementary and I have worked at the school since 2005.  I grew up going to FCPS schools and have lived in the area my entire adult life.  As a long-time member of the Mosby Woods community, I would like to suggest a name for the school that is not on the current list:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg Elementary.  At the initial meeting a few weeks ago, that name had strong support, and I believe it would be an amazing way to honor such a fabulous American hero and the values she stood for: inclusion, perseverance, and hard work.  There are no better three words to encompass the spirit of the school!

I and my family strongly disagree with the renaming of Mosby Woods Elementary School. We don't see the reason why we have to rename our school. It is fine as Mosby Woods Elementary School. However, if my opinion does not count and the Board has already decided with the rename, I hope the name Five Oaks will be chosen.

We have a kindergartener currently.  He has a picture of Katherine Johnson on his wall — I was so excited  to see that that may be the name of the school — it has our vote!!

I wholeheartedly support the name change suggestion of Katherine Johnson.

My suggestion is Martha Washington Elementary School. There are many tributes to George Washington throughout our area, but few to Martha Washington who also impacted generations of Americans. While keeping the same initials as the current MWES, we could also keep the same mascot, and honor a woman who has done much for our country.

I have a 6th grader at MW. I liked the idea of naming the school after Mary McBride. If not, my second selection would be mosaic. I appreciate the work the Superintendent and School Board are putting into renaming Mosby Woods Elementary School.  I support that effort.  Generally I am neutral or support the names, with the exceptions below: Mary McBride - I don't know who this is and a brief google search turned up many people with this name.  Perhaps such a common name without an obvious association is not a good choice. Mosaic - I do not think this is a good name.  "Mosaic" is closely associated with the multi-use development at the corner of Gallows and Lee Highway.  This school is too far away to carry the association.  Even if the students who live there are currently sent to this school (are they?) I think the odds that they might be at a different school in the future is high, and that makes it odd to use "their" name on our school.

Thank you for sharing the suggested name changes. I wanted to provide feedback and share my thoughts. I do NOT think we should name schools after people anymore. All humans have flaws- they aren't always visible or known right away. Mother Theresa has flaws that have come to light as have Ghandi and others! No one is perfect- why name a building after people?! Therefore I vote for Mosaic. It is truly representative of our school of 26 plus languages. Our school is so welcoming and diverse. I want a name that represents our school, not a random name that has no connection to the school. Mosaic is beautiful- just like the school.

I'm fully supportive of renaming Mosby Woods Elementary, but I am vehemently against naming the school after another person. Any person! As well meaning as I'm sure you're trying to be, naming the school after a person is foolish, near sighted, and tone-deaf. Nobody is non-controversial, nobody has a clean enough history to have a school named after them.  What is that person's demonstrated actions/beliefs towards Asian Americans? Blacks/African-Americans?  Native Americans?  Immigrants?  Jews?  Muslims?  LGBTQ?  Pro-Choice?  Pro-Life?  etc... The number of legitimate questions are endless!  Acceptable Names: 1.  Five Oaks  2. Mosaic. Please do not name it after a person.  Let's not make the same mistake twice.

I am a parent of two children that will return to Mosby Woods Elementary next year. I am in favor of the renaming of the school. However, I urge the board to please consider renaming the school to Mosaic or Five Oaks. I am not in favor of naming things after people. As we have seen time and time again, humans are not perfect and there will always be some part of their past that someone will strongly disagree/disapprove of.  Please consider lessons learned and not go through this process again down the road because a sizable group of people find something negative about a person's life. It doesn't matter if the person is male of female, a political figure, humanitarian, scientist, living or deceased...I cannot support renaming to another person. Both Mosaic and Five Oaks are excellent names and I support any one of them. Mosaic has a wonderful meaning and truly defines the school and what we have come to love about the community. Five Oaks represents the neighborhood we live in as well as the location of the school, and makes sense to me as well. Thank you for taking the time to read my comments.

Mary McBride is a fitting name for Mosby Woods but I wonder why the Superintendent omitted the name of these local people from his list. There are many African-American Fairfax residents who were leaders in desegregating Fairfax schools and opposing Massive Resistance. Lawrence Edward and Lillian S. Blackwell were the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging W.T. Woodson’s rejection of the applications of 19 black students to attend white schools. Annie E. Harper was the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that outlawed the poll tax. Frank G. Buechley and H. Alvin Kuhn were minsters of local churchs who organized opposition to Massive Resistance. Thea De Fabio was a taxi driver who refused to sign the pupil placement application required by then Superintendent W.T.Woodson as part of his participation in Massive Resistance.  She filled-in the blank after the question of seeking her sons’ race as “human.” Nellie Henderson was the principal of the James E. Lee Negro Elementary School in the West Falls Church area. Please add these names to the list for consideration for Mosby Woods.

Student called to suggest names:   Ruth Bader Ginsburg, L. Douglas Wilder, and Mosaic ES

I would like to submit a suggestion for the new name of Mosby Woods Elementary: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Elementary School. Justice Ginsburg embodied the belief in the rights and possibilities of all people, which is a lesson that would resonate for generations in the form of an elementary school. Possible mascot: The Dissenters

Please consider renaming Mosby Woods Elementary School to MAPLE WOODS Elementary School. My son "graduated" from Mosby Woods 2 years ago. Mosby Woods has great school spirit. But, names should be neutral and stand the test of time. MAPLE WOODS elementary school is easy to say, easy to write, easy to understand, and easy for kids to spell! It also would provide an opportunity for the school community to commemorate the name change by planting a maple tree on the property.... perhaps a place where kids could have their picture taken by parents at the beginning or end of the school year -- a focal point of sorts. Maple Woods Elementary School also allows the community to keep its acronym -- "MWES" -- which makes it easy for people to remember which school this is (when the name changes). Get rid of the confederate connection, but keep as much continuity as possible. Maple Woods Elementary School sounds like the kind of place a child could thrive and grow into a solid student --- like a solid maple tree!

I’d like to propose the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg Elementary School as an option to consider when changing the name of Mosby Woods elementary. Given Justice Ginsburg’s recent passing and her dedication to giving voice to minorities I think it would be a fitting name for a diverse and modern school. An option for the mascot could even be the dissenters. What a great civics lesson for all the students! I have two children At Mosby Woods now and think this would be a fitting name.

As a parent who had 5 kids attend Mosby Woods Elementary School, I can attest to what a wonderful elementary school it is.  The diversity of the student population is outstanding and the principal, Dr. Aste is exceptional. I am very happy that FCPS is working to rename the elementary school.  To that end, I am suggesting that the school be renamed Henrietta Lacks Elementary School. (Lacks Elementary School).  In my opinion, I believe it is important to showcase the diversity of the school in its name. Below is information from the Virginia.org website regarding Ms. Lacks.  Henrietta Lacks — (1920-1951) Roanoke; The progenitor of the HeLa cell line, one of the most notable cell research discoveries ever made. Her cells lead to many important breakthroughs in biomedical research, including the polio vaccine. Today, the HeLa cell line has been recognized as a globally significant contribution to medicine and research.

I am a high school student who currently goes to Oakton High School. I went to Mosby Woods for 6 years and I do not appreciate a sudden change in the name of the school. "John S. Mosby spent forty years in service to the United States after the Civil War. He personally disapproved of slavery. He became a close friend and confidant to President Grant. He served as Consul to Hong Kong and assistant attorney in the Justice Department. He dedicated much of these years exposing corruption. He was ultimately ostracized by the south for his pro-Union stance, his opposition to the Lost Cause, and his friendship with president Grant. His post-war activities show him to be an honorable American." Because of this, I respect the name of Mosby Woods Elementary School. It shows that the person is more important than the group they associate with. It should now be changed after the decades of achievements that this school represents. 

Why don’t we focus on teaching our children & getting them back in the classroom amongst their peers instead of these meaningless proposals. The school is made up of the students and faculty and judged by its performance in teaching our children not by a name. Who cares if the school is called Mosby Woods. You can try to wipe away all of the history that someone might be sensitive to and then what? Stop with the meaningless virtue signaling and teach our children. My suggestions for the new name: Woke Elementary  Snowflake Elementary 

Please consider Five Oaks Elementary School.

My son currently attends Mosby Woods Elementary School, so I would like to comment on the renaming ideas that have been put forth.  The best idea that I have heard is to name the school after Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as a way to honor a trailblazer who made a significant impact on our lives. However, I also think that since many elementary schools are named after either the neighborhood they are in or the street they are on, Five Oaks Elementary School should also be considered.

Five Oaks Elementary

I would like to respectfully submit for consideration that when Mosby Woods Elementary is renames, it is called Manahoac Elementary, in honor of the stolen Manahoac land on which it sits.

I just wanted to write to let you know that I am against renaming Mosby Woods Elementary. I think it’s important that we do not glorify racism, but that does not mean removing everyone in history that fought for the confederacy, especially when he was a part of unifying the country with Grant after the war and wasn’t specifically for slavery. Erasing history teaches us nothing.

I think a wonderful new name could be Mosaic Elementary School. It would be very representative of who we are- a very diverse school!

As the parent of a 5th grader who has been at Mosby Woods since kindergarten, I strongly support changing the name. We are long overdue to remove honorifics for those who fought to separate and destroy our nation. 

Alexander Hamilton elementary... everybody loves the musical.

I don't need to spend hours discussing the name change. And I don't require a reply. My only feedback/suggestion would be – with the sheer number of places I'm sure "Mosby Woods" exists (signage, letterhead, email signatures, etc) – why not just save time and money and make a minimal change? Something like Mossy Woods, and be done with it.

I'm writing in regards to the proposed name change of Mosby Woods Elementary. I understand and support the current movement to remove Confederate monuments, memorials, and public buildings named for Confederate leaders. However, I would note that the case of John Mosby is not as clear-cut as many of the others, and I would urge people to read up on this person before jumping to a conclusion. John Mosby was against slavery and secession. Although he personally opposed the Confederacy's positions, he joined the war out of a sense of patriotism and loyalty to the state of Virginia. He explained it like this: "A soldier fights for his country, right or wrong. He is not responsible for the political merits of the cause he fights in. The South was my country." After the war, however, he switched parties and was so vocal about reconciliation and unity that his fellow Confederates called him a turncoat and attempted to assassinate him. He was pardoned by none other than President Ulysses Grant, and the two men became close friends for the rest of their lives. He was very vocal against the "Lost Cause" narrative, demanding a truthful account of history. Mosby served honorably as a foreign diplomat in Asia on behalf of the federal government, and had a long career as a lawyer. I can understand the viewpoint that having fought for the Confederacy is disqualifying, especially in this time, but there is quite a bit of nuance here worth considering. At the end of the day, do we define each other only by our worst decisions, our worst associations? Or do we hope people will consider the totality of our lives and weigh the good as much as the bad? If Ulysses Grant himself could recognize that Mosby wasn't your average Confederate leader and offer him redemption, perhaps we should do the same. We should certainly not honor him because he was a Confederate leader. From what I've read of him, it strikes me that even John Mosby himself probably wouldn't want to be honored solely for his time as a Confederate soldier. But perhaps he's worth honoring for everything that came after. 

John S. Mosby spent forty years in service to the United States after the Civil War.  He personally disapproved of slavery.  He became a close friend and confidant to President Grant.  He served as Consul to Hong Kong and assistant attorney in the Justice Department.  He dedicated much of these years exposing corruption.  He was ultimately ostracized by the south for his pro-Union stance, his opposition to the Lost Cause, and his friendship with president Grant.  His post-war activities show him to be an honorable American.  As such, I do not support removing his name from the school.  The bar is high to have your name placed on a school.  It should not be lowered so much as to erase the decades of accomplishments after the war.

We should rename the school after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There are few people who have done as much as she did for the cause of justice and equal rights. There is no more fitting change than to replace the name of a man who fought for the Confederacy with the name of a woman who spent her entire career fighting for the kind of America that we aspire to be.

I fully support the name change away from Mosby Woods. Given the incredibly rich diversity of our students at the school, the change can only enhance a sense of inclusion.

I heartily endorse the proposal to rename Mosby Woods Elementary School. Col. Mosby is an important historical person, but fought to preserve slavery.  His name does not belong on an Elementary School.  Such naming dishonorably honors a Confederate icon of our country’s racist legacy. I lived in Mosby Woods from 1963-1967 and attended Mosby Woods ES first and second grade.  My elder siblings were members of the 1963-1964 first, second, and fourth-grade classes.  We no longer live in Fairfax, but I am delighted that the Board is considering a name change.  The naming was wrong then, and is still wrong today. Please change the name of Mosby Woods Elementary School.

I support the Mosby Woods renaming because we don’t need to have painful reminders of Confederate soldiers here since it was a malicious naming of the school. I think it’s great the school board is voting to rename it. I believe we should rename the school either after L Douglas Wilder or Ruth Bader Ginsburg for their service to our country.

I am writing on the topic of new name ideas for the school Mosby Woods Elementary School. I go to Mosby Woods. I am in 3rd grade. I think the name should be changed. We need to rename it because Mosby was a Confederate guy who believed in slavery. We definitely didn’t need slavery because people are people. The owners should have worked the plantations themselves. Now we know slavery was a bad idea and we shouldn’t have something marked for someone who thought it was good. The school could be named after a place near it. It could be named after a famous African American. It might sound kind of silly but it could be named for a plant! Like Fairfax Oak Elementary School. Our motto is “Learn Give Thrive” I don’t think it quite matches up with John Mosby’s character.

I have a son (3rd grade) at Mosby Woods ES and my daughter will enter school there next year. I was thrilled to hear that Mr. Frisch and Ms. Keys-Gamarra had brought forth our school for renaming. It is past time that a school as vibrant, diverse and inclusive as Mosby Woods was rid of a name representing someone who abhorred the idea of freedom for all and took great efforts to inflict maximum pain, damage and death on those in this area. The history of schools and other public landmarks being named for Confederate leaders is well documented as a tactic of intimidation and White Supremacy. The fact that Mosby was a close friend/associate of JEB Stuart is another reason why MWES should follow Justice High School's lead and rename. If you ride the W&OD trail in Vienna, you will see a historical marker along the side of the trail. (https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=24865) Unlike most it is set back and up higher than most. When you get close to read it, it is not hard to guess that this was done deliberately to keep young children from being able to read it independently. It tells the story of Rev. John Read, an outspoken abolitionist and Union supporter who also ran a school for the local Black population and served those who had been enslaved and made their way to the area. He was captured by Mosby and his Raiders and taken to the woods near that spot and shot in the head at close range. How can we look our children in the eye, telling them that FCPS is committed to  the idea that "Our diversity is a strength that creates resilient, open, and innovative global citizens." and yet send them to a school named after someone who told a Rev. Read to "confine his activities to church business or face dire consequences." I have no doubt that there will be loud voices claiming that you are "erasing history" by changing the school. They are lying. No one will forget what happened during the Civil War and its aftermath, and schools do not have to be given a name glorifying brutality and racism. Show all the children at MWES that you do care for them as individuals and lead by example by changing the name.

Recommend Chadwick Boseman Elementary School. He embodied strength and perserverance during one of the most difficult and challenging times of his life and did it with pride and humility. All qualities Fairfax County Public Schools instill in our children.   

We do not memorialize every bit of our heritage - only those aspects we wish to reflect our values. Those aspects we want our children to learn about and emulate. Those which we want others to meditate upon as reflective of our shared community values. Though some would claim that we never want to “erase” our national history, we name schools not to reflect our history, but to reflect our values. Given that the cause Col. John S. Mosby took up arms for no longer reflects the values we want our children to share, I ask the Board to consider renaming Mosby Woods Elementary School in a manner that reflects our desired current and future values as a community of empathy, of diversity, of civic participation, and of patriotism.

I wanted to write and express my opposition to the proposed name change of Mosby Woods elementary school. I have lived across the road from the school for 21 years, have a daughter that attended K-6 at the school plus have many friends in the Mosby Woods neighborhood. Not once during this time period at the school, around the school or in any of the nearby neighborhoods have I heard one person ever utter displeasure at the name of the school.  Quite the opposite, only pride for the school. I would politely ask that the school board stop wasting time and money trying to solve a problem that doesn't even exist.

As a community member and parent of a student who attended MWES, I am writing to oppose the proposal to rename the school. We are all products of our times. We progress and learn as a human race. This kind of revisionist approach is not the right way for us to learn from our history to inform the future. Sweeping our past under the carpet by erasing a few names and statutes fools no one but ourselves and our children. We will be judged by history one day, too. Don’t forget that whenever we indulge in a moment of self-righteousness and in the “woke” culture. Besides, Mosby the person was unknown to us, but Mosby the school is what many students identify with. Don’t take that away from them.