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Madison Metropolitan School District

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.”

Dr. Virgina Hendersons Family

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

Community Leaders Reflect on Dr. Virgina Henderson Renaming

Photo Gallery from the Renaming Ceremony

students painting
Dr. Henderson Elementary T-Shirt
Henderson Renaming ring toss game
students enjoying the ring toss game
Henderson Renaming presentors smiling
Group awaiting Henderson Renaming ceremony
smiling group photo
smiling Henderson Renaming attendees
Henderson Renaming program
Henderson Renaming Stage and sign
Henderson Renaming drummer
Henderson Renaming Attendees
Henderson Renaming Crowd
wisconsin state journal article
sign language interpretor and speaker
dr. Jenkins speech
Henderson Renaming presentor
Nichelle Nichols speech
laughing during speech
appreciative attendees
smiling presenter
Henderson Renaming crowd from the back looking at the stage
lauching crowd
Henderson Renaming student presentation
Dr. Henderson's smiling family
happy attendees
Henderson Renaming presentor
clapping crowd
smiling crowd
second Henderson Renaming student speech
Henderson Renaming student speech
Henderson Renaming dancer with arms spread wide
Henderson Renaming dancer striking a pose
Henderson Renaming dancers in motion
Henderson Renaming dancers
Henderson Renaming Speaker
Henderson Renaming crowd photo
Henderson Renaming Speech
hugging attendees
Dr Henderson's family in front of the new school sign