An elementary school in Salt Lake City previously named after former President Andrew Jackson will now be honoring NASA’s first black female engineer, Mary Jackson.
Following a unanimous vote from Salt Lake’s school board on Tuesday night, the school formerly known as Jackson Elementary is now Mary Jackson Elementary. In 1958, Mary Jackson became NASA’s first black female engineer, a story told in both the recent movie and original book “Hidden Figures.”
Principal Dr. Jana Edward says the decision to change the name was two-fold. The Rose Park community, where the school is located, wanted a more appropriate figurehead for their diverse student body — 85 percent come from minority backgrounds. And, Mary Jackson serves as an example to the students of pursuing a dream career in science or math in spite of the odds.
“It’s powerful for them as we try to recruit more students of color, particularly girls, into the STEM fields," says Edward. "You can have lots of barriers placed in front of you and you can still be smarter than anyone else in the room."
The school’s new name will be formally recognized with a celebration in the spring.