History of Nottoway Training School

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According to a history written by Mr. S. J. Fitzgerald ***

"Secondary education was not offered in the public school system in Nottoway for Negroes until the year 1913. Prior to this time, all training on a secondary level was offered at Ingleside Seminary, a private institution in the county.

NTS, the only public school that offers training for Negroes on a secondary level, evolved from the old Johnson Elementary School during the administration of A. A. Fitzgerald in 1909. It was about that time, that movement for better educational facilities became noticeable as a result of the crowded condition of the old Johnson building.

A.A. Fitzgerald, the principal of the school, sensed the need, and realizing the interest of the patrons, called them together on January 19, 1909 to perfect plans for another school building. At this meeting, an improvement league was organized, and committees were appointed to meet with the school board to discuss the situation.

After many conferences, the school board promised to build a four-room school, if the patrons would buy the land. A meeting of the league again called and a committee appointed to, look for a suitable location for the new school. After a week of investigation, the committee reported that it had obtained a desirable site on Irving Street in Blackstone.

The new four-room school was completed in 1912 and Wilson Leigh was appointed as principal. The school also marked the beginning of the work of the Jeanes Supervisors in Nottoway County.

The next important event in the development of the school was the introduction of two years work on the secondary level, which took place during the school year of 1913. Again, R. R. Watts, the principal and the league were called upon to raise two hundred dollars to add on more rooms, which needed to accommodate the increased school enrollment. This task completed, two teachers were added to the staff and the school board granted an eight-month school term.

J.B. Botts succeeded R.R. Watts and the school made rapid strides under his leadership. He served as principal for six years. During his administration, the school league raised one hundred fifty dollars for the purpose of building a workshop; the original building was remodeled for an agricultural shop.

In 1918 the School Board decided to build a cottage for principals and teachers; again the patrons were called upon to raise $800.00. This money was raised and the building was erected and used by the Home Economics Department.

The height of the development of NTS was reached during the administration of O.M. Stewart, who served as principal of the school from 1928-1938. It was during his principal ship that three rooms were added, a complete high school course was offered and the school became accredited. The school now offered training in Home Economics, Vocational Agriculture and general college preparatory courses."

It was largely through his efforts that the movement was started for free bus transportation for Negro children of the county. Nottoway Training School became the center of cultural life of the Negro population.

James B. Woodson, the last principal of NTS was much interested in furthering the educational opportunities of the Negroes in Nottoway County. (He was the transitioning principal from NTS to Luther H. Foster High School in 1950.)

Nottoway Training School had twelve principals: A.A. Fitzgerald, Wilson Leigh, D.L. King, T.M. Crowder, J.B. Botts, H. Howe, D.H. Waddie, O.M. Stewart, R. Branch, W.A. Brown, T. Royal and J.B. Woodson.

*** Fitzgerald, S.J., History of Nottoway Training School, Virginia State University Archives, Petersburg, VA

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