School principal Hermione Wharton dies


June 10, 1991

Services for Hermione Elaine Wharton, a lifelong resident of Baltimore who served as principal at four city public schools, will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Katherine's Episcopal Church, Presstman and Division streets.

Miss Wharton, who was 91, died in her sleep Friday at Keswick.

Miss Wharton taught English and other subjects in Baltimore's schools for more than 25 years before becoming an administrator.

At her retirement in 1963, she said that her "happiest days were in the classroom with the children. A principal must be all things to all people, but a teacher can work closely with students to the single end of their benefit."

Born Oct. 24, 1899, Miss Wharton came from a family of teachers. Her mother, father and three sisters all taught in the city schools, and her father, Heber Wharton, was the first black principal of a public school in Baltimore.

She studied for two years at what is now Coppin State College, and began teaching in 1919 while continuing her own education.

Miss Wharton received a bachelor's degree in education from Morgan State in 1929 and attended summer sessions at Harvard University, Columbia University and New York University, from which she received her master's degree in 1947.

That year, she became special assistant at Booker T. Washington Junior High School. In 1948, she became the principal of Douglass High School and was later principal at Harvey Johnson Junior High School and Cherry Hill Junior High School.

Her last assignment was as the first principal of the William H. Lemmel Junior High School at 2801 Dukeland Street when it opened in February 1959.

Miss Wharton told The Sun in 1963 that she believed in training teachers in content rather than technique. "If you have content, method and technique will come," she maintained. "The children must feel that you know what you are teaching."

She had taken an active role in community affairs as a board member of the Woodbourne Home for Boys and the Baltimore Organization of Social Welfare, and was a member of the Women's Association of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Opera Guild, the YWCA and the Church Mission of Help.

She also was a member of the National Urban League, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, professional organizations in education, and the alumni associations of Morgan State University, Coppin State College and New York University.

Miss Wharton was a charter member of St. Katherine's Episcopal Church, where she was baptized and confirmed. She had been a choir member for 30 years, chairwoman of the Harvest Home Suppers, president of Episcopal Church Women and a board member of the Bishop's Guild.

Survivors include three cousins, Hermione Reckling Harden of Baltimore, Elaine Weatherby of Cambridge and Marie Owens of Newton, Mass; and two godchildren, Lynn Carpenter Coleman of Columbia and Ann Elizabeth Giardina of Catonsville.

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