Western's Scott still leads the way

January 29, 1995|By Kiah Stokes | Kiah Stokes,Contributing Writer

Athletic director Eva Scott shares her tiny, windowless office with four other instructors at Western High School.

There is barely enough room to think. Their desks are cluttered with papers and books and Scott's wastebasket is full.

On this particular day Scott makes a call to ensure the "girls" get transported to an event. The bulletin board behind her is a picture collage of young women competing and achieving victory in sports.

Scott, too, has achieved victories, starting in 1958 when she was beginning her teaching career at Western.

"Since most of my life I had been associated with Baltimore County," said Scott, who grew up in Glen Arm. "I did not know a great deal about Baltimore City schools, but I knew about Western's reputation for excellence."

She was the first African-American teacher at the nation's oldest all-girls public high school (which celebrated its 150th anniversary last May). During that time span, Western has moved to seven sites. Scott has been at the last three.

At Western, Scott is regarded as a pioneer.

"She has definitely laid the groundwork for a lot of minority teachers at Western," said Breezy Bishop, Western's varsity basketball coach who has worked under Scott for nearly 25 years. "She has definitely experienced things that I haven't. As far as I'm concerned, she was the Jackie Robinson of intergrating the faculty at Western High School."

Scott still recalls when she started at Western.

"The principal, Mrs. [Nanet] Blackiston, called me for an interview in late July and I arrived making sure to wear a dress, hat and white gloves, which I had heard was expected at Western. After a rather routine interview, I was told, 'You look all right today; see if you can continue to look like this.' "

Scott credits Blackiston for gradually being very helpful and supportive.

As the school year progressed, faculty meetings were needed in an attempt to smooth over racial tensions.

"Some of the staff made sure that I realized that an Afro-American was not welcomed at Western," Scott recalls. "One teacher was openly prejudiced. She put her feet in the seat L LTC next to me whenever she saw me coming. Whether it was in a faculty meeting or cafeteria meeting; anything so I wouldn't sit beside her."

In September 1959, Scott became chairperson of the athletic department after J. Elizabeth Corkins retired.

As a teacher, Scott's annual salary was $3,000. Chairpersons and coaches were not paid then.

"About 10 years after I got here [Western], I was given the title of department head. And a couple of years after that, I was made the athletic director," said Scott, who received her undergraduate degree at Morgan State University and her master's degree from Towson State University. "Although these titles didn't really change what I did, I'd always been running the department, they did represent a salary increase."

Scott's annual salary is more than 11 times the amount she received in 1959.

She finds gratification in all that she does -- coaching badminton, arranging transportation, arranging officials and schedules and surveying all departmental needs. After all, this is a career she knew she wanted a long time ago.

"If you look in my seventh-grade yearbook where I listed what I wanted to do, it says 'teach physical education' ," said Scott.

In May, Scott was presented with a surprise dedication when the stadium that Poly and Western share, called Robert Lumsden Stadium for 37 years, was changed to Lumsden-Scott Stadium.

Robert Lumsden Stadium was named after Poly's longtime athletic director, who for years worked with Scott to juggle the athletic programs of two schools in one stadium.

"Eva was a very nice person. We worked well together. She was a delightful woman," Lumsden said.

Sandra Wighton, the principal at Western for 15 (1979-1994) of Scott's 37 years at Western, said Scott is "not one to rest on her laurels. She's never complacent."

"Words don't adequately describe her," said Wighton, now the southeast area superintendent for Baltimore City public schools. She's a model and an ideal athletic director and I don't use those words lightly. Her work effort is above reproach and she leads by example."

At the end of each year, Scott thinks about calling it quits. Why should her 37 th year be any different?

"Well, I think about retiring, but I don't know," she said.

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