The board voted 10-2 in favor of renaming the building Mosaic Elementary School during a meeting yesterday (Thursday).
The new name was adopted more than half a year after Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch and at-large member Karen Keys-Gamarra made an initial appeal to rename the school on June 18.
“Mosaic is not perfect. Mosaics are not perfect,” Frisch said on Thursday. “But the irregular pieces of stone, glass and ceramic that make mosaics result in something special. That is my hope for Mosby Woods community.”
The decision to change the school’s name came with support from descendants of the school’s namesake, Colonel John S. Mosby. The descendants sent a letter to the school board to request Fairfax County rename the school in the interest of “maintaining an inclusive environment for all students.”
Mosby was a Confederate commander who led a guerrilla campaign against Union supply and communications lines throughout northern Virginia during the Civil War.
“Today was an opportunity to say we live in a community, we live in a county that speaks over 200 languages and has people from all walks of life,” member-at-large Abrar Omeish said. “Mosaic is a way to bring everyone together under that name.”
Inspired by the school’s relative proximity to the Mosaic District in Merrifield, the name “Mosaic” was one of five options that Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand recommended on Oct. 22 to replace Mosby Woods.
The two votes against renaming the school to Mosaic came from Keys-Gamarra and Mount Vernon District Representative Karen Corbett-Sanders. Corbett-Sanders did not give her support to the new name out of concern that it “is associated with a different geographic region than that where the current school is located.”
Keys-Gamarra expressed disappointment about comments from some community and staff members who she said dismissed the idea of renaming the school after notable women of color, such as Mae Jemison, Sylvia Mendez, Patsy Mink, and Rebecca Lee Crumpler.
“I heard it more than once: ‘These people don’t represent us.’ And I heard it from staff. That was hurtful to me because there is no denial that these are great Americans,” Keys-Gamarra said. “I’ve spoken to community members — at least one — that had that view until our conversation. They said, ‘We have Asians and Hispanics, and we have so many people. That’s why these people don’t represent us and Mosaic is so much better.'”
Image via FCPS