Former New Rochelle Principal Dies in PA

Barbara T. Mason was the first black public school principal outside of New York City.

Barbara T. Mason was the first of three children born to the late Junius and Sarah Mason of Morristown, NJ, on Feb. 12, 1916. She died Dec. 15, 2012, at the age of 96.

After graduating from Morristown High School in 1934, Mason earned her Bachelor of Arts from Newark Teachers’ College. Later she earned a Master of Arts and Doctorate in Education from Columbia Teachers’College.

After holding teaching positions in Charlotte Court House, VA; Williamsburg, VA; Hot Springs, VA, and Baltimore, MD, she began teaching in New Rochelle in 1944. While in New Rochelle, she was an exchange teacher in London, England, under a Fulbright Fellowship sponsored by the State Department.

In 1957, she was appointed assistant principal of Davis Elementary School, and in 1958 she was named principal of Roosevelt Elementary School in New Rochelle, NY, the first African American public school principal outside of New York City.

While principal, she was given a leave of absence to become the head of education at the Women’s Job Corps, set up by General Electric in Clinton, IA. It was during this time that she was elected to the Elfin Society. In 1968, Barbara was appointed to the program of Educational Administration at Queens College, CUNY.

While at Queens College, she served on the NY state board and national board of Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In 1971, she served as the national treasurer for the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction. While professor at Queens College, she founded the Association of Women Administrators in Westchester County.

Barbara retired from Queens College in 1979 becoming the first African American to be made professor emerita from the college. After she retired from Queens College, she organized an after-school program called “Fun School” for youngsters and parents living in or near a low-cost housing project. Additionally Barbara started a retired teachers consulting service in New Rochelle.

In 1982, she was appointed visiting professor in the doctoral program in school administration at Texas A&M, College Station, TX, becoming the first African American woman professor at that university.

She also gave workshops for groups on Life Planning for Retirement Years from 1984 to 1996. When she moved from Westchester County, NY, to Pennswood Village, a continuing care retirement community in Newtown, PA, Barbara remained very active. In addition to serving on the Board of Pennswood Village, one of her many volunteer activities is called “Family Friends,” a school system program of volunteers over the age of 55 who work with special needs children.

Other organizations in which Barbara was involved are life membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. A brother, Rev. Junius H. Mason, of Lawrenceville, VA, predeceased Barbara. She is survived by a sister, Eleanor M. White, and nephew, Stanley E White of Montclair, NJ, a nephew, Junius H. Mason, III (Pamela); nieces, Christina and Courtney Mason of Midlothian, VA, and a host of family and friends.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2013, 10 a.m. at Pennswood Village, 1382 Newtown-Langhorne Rd., Newtown, PA, 215-968-9110. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Dr. Martin Luther King Scholarship Fund, 205 Claremont Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042.


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