(From left) are teachers Lauren Wagner and Kris Beurmann under a portrait of Louise Archer.
Louise A. Reeves Archer was born on Oct. 23, 1883, and grew up in North Carolina. She attended Livingstone College, taught school in Southampton County and moved to Washington, D.C., in 1922.
That year, she became the teacher and principal for the one-room, segregated Vienna Colored School. She devoted her life to educating African-American children and often drove them to school, herself.
Archer organized a Parent-Teacher Association to raise funds for supplies and a new building, which opened on its current site in 1939 with three rooms. In 1941, students, parents and faculty raised $300 to pay for a music teacher, bus expenses, kitchen supplies and the installation of electric lights.
Besides academics, Archer taught sewing, cooking, music, gardening and poetry to her students in fifth through seventh grades – then the highest level of public education available to African-Americans. Highly respected, she taught children many important life skills that would serve them well throughout their lives.
She led Archer until March 1948, dying a month later. Two years later, to honor her memory and legacy, parents petitioned the School Board and, in 1950, the school’s name was officially changed to Louise Archer Elementary.