Minister / Educator
Reverend Andrew W. Adkins was the resilient pastor of the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church for 43 years (1920-1963). He began teaching high school classes in one room of the Parker-Gray Elementary School. His legacy is most remembered as a great pastor and dedicated educator.
Educator / Sculptor
Adkins is a sculptor and an Associate Professor of Fine Arts in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Adkins’ work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), as well as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. In addition to his visual artistic talents, Adkins is also an accomplished musician and composer. Terry Adkins is the son of Alexandria educator and track coach Robert Adkins.
Helen Lumpkins Day, an Alexandria native, was born July 4, 1905, and attended Hallowell School for Girls. A legendary educator and a persuasive community activist, she taught grade school in the Alexandria Public Schools for 46 years. Affectionately known as “Miss Helen,” she was a source of strength and leadership in many social, cultural, educational, and political organizations. A U.S. Post Office within the Parker-Gray Historic District is named in her honor.
Educator / Coach
Ferris Holland, born January 14, 1900, was an enthusiastic educator whose primary fields of instruction were science, biology, and chemistry. He worked at Parker-Gray High School for 30 years as a teacher, coach and academic counselor. Holland formed and financed the school’s baseball and football teams when there was no public funding for either sport.
Educator / Tuskegee Airman / President, Fisk University
Dr. Rutherford H. Adkins is the distinguished Parker-Gray alumnus who was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, flying over 14 overseas missions with this elite squadron of black pilots. The brilliant educator served as a physics professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, later becoming president of Knoxville College from 1976 to 1981, at which time he retired. In 1997, he returned to public life after being named the 11th president of Fisk University.
Arnold Thurmond is the legendary coach who began teaching at Parker-Gray in 1950 as an Industrial Arts Education instructor, and began his career as the school’s head basketball coach in 1950, which included three consecutive impressive Virginia state basketball championships (1955-1957).
Athlete / Educator / Administrator
Charles Price, an Alexandria native and Parker-Gray alumnus, was the first Virginia State College football player to sign with a professional football team. Following desegregation, he became the first black head coach in Virginia at Langley High School, and would become an outstanding Fairfax County Public School system administrator.
Educator / Community Leader / Historian
Harry Burke was a public schoolteacher and community leader who became the first aquatics director of the Johnson Memorial Pool in 1952 during segregation. He was responsible for organizing the first black swim teams in Alexandria, and conducted classes for youth to prepare for lifeguard certification. He served as the chairman for the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage.
Eugene Thompson, a native Alexandrian, will long be remembered as the first Director of what is now the Alexandria Black History Museum, and who chronicled the history of the African American community at a time when that history was largely ignored. He worked diligently with the Office of Historic Alexandria to develop the Alexandria Black Heritage Park and the Watson Reading Room.
Educator / Historian
Carlton A. Funn Sr., a native Alexandrian, is well known for developing his own curriculum, one which recognized African American achievements and history, after being confronted with the dated and racially offensive Virginia history textbook to be used in teaching his seventh-grade class in the ACPS in 1957. In 1998, Funn received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Council of Negro Women.
Educator / Principal
Nellie Brooks Quander, a Parker-Gray alumna, was appointed to several public school administrator positions including the assistant principal at Cora Kelly and Jefferson Houston Elementary Schools and Assistant to the Fairfax County Schools Superintendent as an Area Coordinator. Quander was elected President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and appointed to the Virginia State Board of Community College Governors.
Educator / Principal
Ardelia Hunter began her teaching career at Charles Houston Elementary School. In the 1960s when the schools were desegregated, she was appointed as acting principal at Stonewall Jackson Elementary School. She served as the Lyles Crouch Elementary School principal for 10 years, and as Patrick Henry Elementary School principal for 11 years before retirement.