Adam Interviews Alice Young

Rochester education pioneer reflects on her integration efforts

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - It was in a place called Wise, North Carolina Alice  Young’s parents found a school for their daughter.

She would take her education to a migrant camp in Poolville, NY in 1944.

“I realized they (the migrant workers) came with nothing and in the end of the day or when they needed supplies they would to go to a commissary and make an X, they didn’t know how to write their names, and I said now, I am going to teach them to write their names and read before I leave,” Young said.

It was in those squalid conditions Young became a teacher.

Her education career took root in Rochester.

While she was welcomed into the Rochester City School District as a teacher, she was not welcomed by some into her neighborhood.

“In the mailbox there was a letter that said you so-and-sos have two months to move out of this house or it’ll be destroyed by fire, signed, the Klu Klux Klan,” she remembered.

She didn’t leave and continued to climb the ranks at RCSD, eventually becoming the district’s first vice principal, first principal of elementary schools and first central office administrator.

Asked if any hesitancy accompanied her rise, Young said, “No, I grew up on a farm and my father instilled into all of us the dignity of hard work … So when I began my work, my philosophy to myself was, you’re going to do this job to make the boss look good, not thinking about someday I might be the boss. I wasn’t thinking of that, I was just thinking about the dignity of doing the work and doing it well.”

She did it so well the superintendent eventually tapped her to craft various integration programs.

In 1965, Young developed the Urban Suburban program, which allowed children to attend school in other districts.

All this time later, the program is firmly established in many local districts and across the country.

“I think any program that benefits youngsters, programs which have taken down fences and have lasted this long, they have value, they have value,” Young said.

Young was recruited in the 1970s to help start Monroe Community College.

We went from a founding trustee to chair of the school’s board from 1978 to 1998, all the while helping to build a scholarship program to open up college to all.

“Integration removes the fences, youngsters have a greater vision of what’s possible and where the opportunities are,” she said.

A bit of wisdom picked up in a place called Wise.

 


More Stories

Don't Miss

  • Adam Interviews
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Buffalo Kickoff Live!
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Extraordinary People
  • Ask The Experts
    Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Games and Puzzles

Trending Stories

Latest News

Video Center