Paul Freedman Scott Sr., helped integrate Balto. Co. schools, dies

A educator for 30 years, he was among first black administrators in country

(Handout/Baltimore Sun )
April 24, 2011|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

Paul Freedman Scott Sr., an educator for 30 years who helped integrate Baltimore County public schools, died of natural causes April 17 at LifeBridge Health at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown.

He was 94 and lived in Baltimore's Ashburton neighborhood for more than more than 50 years.

The 11th child of of a minister and a midwife/nurse, Mr. Scott was born in Washington and grew up in the Quaker hamlet of Sandy Spring community in Montgomery County.

Brought up in the Quaker community, Mr. Scott "was influenced by those values, which developed really solid morals" that would carry throughout his life, said a son, Michael Scott of Marriottsville.

In a time when many blacks were oppressed, Mr. Scott told his son that the Sandy Spring community offered him more opportunities. Mr. Scott believed he was privileged to grow up in the area, "so he brought some of the opportunities to other people. He would say you have to give people a chance and encourage them to get there," his son said.

Mr. Scott attended the Rockville Colored High School, where he played baseball. Growing up during the Depression, he caddied at local golf clubs, carrying two huge leather bags at a time for 25 cents each, and developed a lifelong love for the sport.

He received a Quaker scholarship in 1934 and became the first in his family to graduate from college, with an advanced teaching certificate from what is now Bowie State University in 1937. At school, Mr. Scott played football, baseball and basketball. He also boxed and ran at the Penn Relays in the same heat as Olympic gold medal-winner Jesse Owens.

After he earned his teaching certificate, he worked at Western Electric Co. and at several hotels and country clubs.

In 1950, he earned his bachelor's degree in education from Bowie State and was hired by the Baltimore County schools as a fifth-grade teacher at Fleming Elementary School in Turners Station in southeast Baltimore County. At Fleming, Mr. Scott also served as the project director for an early childhood education program that would serve as a model for county preschool and kindergarten programs, his son said.

While working as a teacher, Mr. Scott spent weekends and summers traveling to New York to earn a master's degree in supervision and administration from New York University in 1957. He was forced to leave the state to earn his degree because at that time, blacks were not allowed to attend Maryland public graduate schools.

He married Effie Liggans before earning his master's degree. The couple had a daughter, Sandra, and a son, Paul Jr. She died in 1964 of a sudden illness.

He was remarried in December 1966 to Roberta "Bobbie" Pemberton Woodlon of Cherry Hill, and they had two more sons, Michael and Jonathan.

In 1968, Mr. Scott became principal of Timber Grove Elementary School, a new school in the developing area of Owings Mills. He was one of the first black administrators in the county.

"That community loved him, they revered him," Michael Scott said. "He lived at that school," attending every event and function.

Michael Scott said his father "used the school as a way to build relationships — for the neighborhood to have a stake in the school." His father never spoke of being discriminated against, but his son said if he was, it did not deter him. "He just believed if you brought your A game, people would respect him," he said.

As principal, he designed and implemented successful child development programs and ran an integrated "community school" approach to education.

"He was a principal's principal who was absolutely dedicated to the children within his school," state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said in a statement.

"He nurtured teachers, he invited parents to be part of his school community, and he served as a model for many, many other principals. His kind approach to excellent instruction was admired by everyone," Dr. Grasmick said. "He set a standard that galvanized the entire community to be part of his school. As a result, he was absolutely revered."

Mr. Scott retired from Baltimore County's schools in 1980 after serving on a number of statewide boards for educators, including as executive committee board member of the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals.

"He just loved people. His ability to teach was just natural," his wife said.

He received honorary life membership in the Maryland Congress of Parents and Teachers and the Association of Elementary School Administrators of Baltimore County.

Mr. Scott also taught Sunday school and for 37 years chaired the Board of Stewards at Douglas Memorial Community Church on Madison Avenue in Baltimore. His son said the church was deeply involved in the civil rights movement, and his father participated in sit-ins and was jailed several times for acts of civil disobedience.

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