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Honoring Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander:

A Role Model for Future Generations of Students

In a tribute to a woman whose lists of personal and professional achievements are unparalleled, the Penn-Assisted School is now officially The Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School. The School Reform Commission passed a resolution in August approving the name.

The neighborhood PreK-8 university-assisted public school was created through the collaboration of Penn, the School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and serves a diverse catchment area with families from nearly 20 countries.

Dr. Alexander was a pioneer for African-American women, blazing educational and professional trails, and a role model for anyone striving to end prejudice and discrimination.

"I am very pleased that the School Reform Commission agreed with our recommendation to have our school named after a woman of great recognition," said Sheila A. Sydnor, the school principal. "Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander exemplified true leadership, perseverance and dedication to our city and our country. Our students will know and emulate the values of this great lawyer, educator and pioneer as they pursue their education. Mrs. Alexander will serve as the role model for all who will cross our threshold."

Born in 1898 into a family whose members had fought discrimination and segregation in Canada, Wales and the U.S., Dr. Alexander was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in economics, not only at Penn, but also in the nation. She was also the first African-American woman to enroll in law school at Penn and earn a law degree, the first African-American woman to pass the bar and to practice law in Pennsylvania.

"She had to be better than the very best," said Jerry Jordan, vice president of the PFT. "She had a lot of obstacles to overcome. She's going to be a great role model for the children who attend the school."

President Harry S. Truman appointed Dr. Alexander to the President's Committee on Civil Rights, whose report, To Secure These Rights, served as the foundation of the civil rights movement in America and was the basis for future civil rights policy decisions and legislation. President Jimmy Carter appointed her chairperson of the White House Conference on Aging, charged with addressing a range of social and economic needs of the elderly.

"There is no more fitting tribute to my mother than to name this newly created and state-of-the-art public school in her honor," said Rae Alexander-Minter, Ed.D., speaking for the family. "Sadie Alexander's life and work and her love of education will serve as a model of excellence and high achievement for all the students who attend and graduate from the Alexander School. May education and learning be central to their lives and work and move them forward to lives of personal and academic fulfillment," she said.

The school opens this fall for grades PreK-2 and 5-6 in a newly constructed 83,000 square feet, $19 million building that can accommodate up to 650 students in 28 classrooms. Clustered in modules, the classrooms overlook a central multi-story atrium that will also serve as a gathering place for students and community. Other features include a gymnasium/auditorium, instructional media center, science labs, music rooms, art room and full-service cafeteria.

"This is a fantastic facility for the children of West Philadelphia and a great place for them to learn and grow," said Dr. Susan Fuhrman, dean of GSE. "We're very proud of the partnership that made this school a reality and thrilled, of course, that it's been named for Sadie Alexander."

A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for this fall.

See a timeline of Sadie Alexander's life


Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 2, September 3, 2002


September 3, 2002
Volume 49 Number 2

Penn alumna Sadie Alexander's name will live on at the newly named preK-8 school.
Welcome Back: Messages From the President and From the Senate Chair.
Penn and Trammell Crow have terminated the arrangements they had for management and other services.
The Pottruck Health and Fitness Center opens with tours of the state-of-the-art recreation facility.
ISC unveils a new authentication system for better computer security--out with the PennNet IDs and in with the PennKeys.
Penn has lost eight members of the Penn community over the summer.
The Report of the Working Group on Human Subjects Research in the SocioBehavioral Sciences.
The updated, revised Three-Year Academic Calendar lets you look ahead to 2004-2005.
The Undergraduate Admissions seminars for Penn faculty and staff families are this week--the first one is at 5:15 p.m. today.
The September AT PENN calendar includes a list of the special 9/11 commemorative events that span from morning until evening across the campus.