Henderson Renaming Ceremony Honors Late School Psychologist
The Henderson Elementary School community held a renaming ceremony Tuesday, May 10, 2022, honoring its late namesake, Dr. Virginia Henderson, the school’s longtime psychologist.
Henderson’s family, MMSD leaders, and students of Dr. Virginia Henderson Elementary School gathered outside the school with food, games, music and dance performances, and speeches during the event, which was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After serving as the school psychologist from 1976 to 1991, Henderson worked as the special assistant to the superintendent for equity and diversity at the central office until she retired in 1997.
She also formed the nonprofit Women In Focus, which encourages and supports students of color to succeed in education through a college scholarship program.
“I’m proud to be part of a school that is named after a strong Black woman,” fifth grader Janiya Rios-Bradford said. “She inspires me to work hard and be whatever I want to be.”
Virginia Ruth McKinney Henderson loved children her whole life. She trained to be a child psychologist, and received her PhD from the University of New Mexico while raising her own three children and providing a home filled with love and motivation. When she and her husband, Perry, moved their family to Madison, she joined the staff of, what was then, Glendale School. She dedicated her time, love and extraordinary talents to the teachers and children of Glendale.
As the school’s psychologist, she was determined that all children under her care would be seen, understood, and loved. She advocated for their success, taught them to embrace their uniqueness, and encouraged them to be kind to each other. She supported children with a multiple of learning styles, and taught the community all children could learn and grow when the educational environment shifted equitably to meet their needs. She found a home at Glendale and created a safe place for students, staff, and teachers to thrive in an atmosphere of multicultural respect.
She was not a woman who sought the limelight, so she would be humbled and very surprised to learn that the school, where she dedicated so much of her time and energy, was being named after her. Her keen intelligence, deep wisdom and diplomacy helped this school, and the entire Madison community, rise to the challenge of building bridges across the differences that often divide us.
As her family, we are deeply touched and extremely grateful that her work and her legacy will not be forgotten. We believe her love, compassion, and deep commitment to every child’s right to an excellent education will be cemented in the mission and presence of Dr. Virginia Henderson Elementary School. May those who enter these doors embrace differences, find connections, ignite curiosity, and be kind to each other in honor of her memory.
— In deep appreciation from her devoted husband, Perry, and adoring children Sheryl, Ginger, and Andy