Albemarle Training School

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Albemarle Training School was a segregated school for African American students in Albemarle County, Virginia from 1885 until 1959.


For many years, the Albemarle Training School served as the only secondary school for African Americans in Albemarle County. The school formed after the Union Ridge Graded School, a primary school, burned down in 1893. Albemarle Training School, at the time a two-room schoolhouse was built to replace it.[1] The school's curriculum was fashioned after Booker T. Washington's philosophy with a combination of basic elementary education and two years of vocational training.

By the late 1940s, the school served seventh through eleventh grades. As with many other schools for Black students in Virginia, twelfth grade was not offered. Students were from Albemarle County and Charlottesville, but also for Black students from Greene and Orange counties.

A. Milton Tyree, class of 1950, said that it was originally named a “training school” instead of a “high school” because the belief of the dominant culture was that “Negroes could not be educated, but they could be trained.”[1] Older alumni recall being discouraged from considering college.

Often, class sizes would start with nearly a hundred pupils and lower to about a fifth of that, as economic and domestic responsibilities limited students’ ability to attend school.[1] Generally, female students were more likely to graduate, but were less likely to be allowed to attend college. Tyree estimated about four students from his graduating class went on to receive their bachelor’s degree.[1]

Until the 1940s, there were no regulations for how many times a student could repeat a grade. Students with responsibilities elsewhere could and did repeat a grade multiple times to receive the full year’s worth of education.[1]

Students and their families were expected to provide fuel for the fires, and to keep the school clean, and perform other maintenance work.[1]

Over the years, the school expanded from the original two-room schoolhouse to five classrooms, a library, and a detached industrial education building. There was no running water. In later years, a school bus was provided, albeit an irregularly scheduled one.[1]

The school closed in 1950, the same time that both Jefferson School and Esmont High School were closed. All three schools were consolidated and students were sent to Burley High School in Charlottesville. Albemarle Training School remained in operation while it was “phased out.”[1] Albemarle Training School was converted to an elementary school for the next nine years.

The school building was demolished. [2]


Professor Jesse S. Sammons was the principal from 1885 to 1900. He is remembered for dedicating immense amounts of time and energy to the school and its students.[3] He had previously been the first principal of Union Ridge Graded School, and before that, the first teacher of the one-room school at Ivy Creek.

Professor Reaves C. Minor was the interim principal after Professor Sammons’ retirement until 1903. He was assistant principal to Professor Sammons.[3]

Professor John G. Shelton was principal from 1903 to 1930. He introduced mastery testing as a way to pass each grade, monthly report cards, and formal graduation ceremonies.[3]

Mrs. Mary Carr Greer was the principal of the school from 1930 until 1950. Greer Elementary School was named after her.[3][4] She also introduced and taught a “Domestic Science” course for students to prepare for life after graduation, and changed the curriculum to more closely match what was being taught in white high schools. Before becoming principal, she was the “rural supervisor.”[3]

Mrs. E. P. Nicholas was the principal from 1951 to 1959.[3]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Web. [ Black ‘Training School’ to Have First-Ever Reunion Next Week], Chris Edwards McNett, News Article, Charlottesville Observer, June 7-13, 1990
  2. Web. Albemarle Training School, African American Heritage Sites Database (Via, Virginia Humanities, retrieved February 15, 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Web. [ A History of Ayteesse], News Article, Lottesville-Albemarle Tribune, May 24, 1990
  4. Print: Natural Area Home to Family Rememberances, David A. Maurer, Daily Progress, Worrell Newspaper group August 19, 1990, Page F1.