Virginia Estelle Randolph: pioneer of black education

JEI Learning Center is proud to celebrate Black History Month and the great Black trailblazers who pioneered new opportunities in education. Today, we are highlighting Virginia Estelle Randolph whose commitment to Black education led to breakthroughs in the way vocational training was globally conducted.

Randolph was born in 1874, only nine years after enslaved people, including her parents, were emancipated in the United States. She graduated from school in 1889 and began her career as a school teacher at the age of 16.

Randolph’s vision for education was revolutionary. The curriculum she designed was predicated on practicality and creativity. Education was cast as an endeavor involving parents and the entire community. In order to garner support for such endeavors, Randolph organized some unusual activities. On Arbor Day, she gathered parents and students to plant 12 sycamore trees which came to be cared for by parents of students and other community members.

In 1908, she was honored with the first Jeanes Supervising Industrial Teacher award which employed black supervisors to upgrade vocational programs for black students. Given this honor, Randolph was given the task of improving the schools in Henrico County, Virginia. The curriculum she developed, known as the Henrico Plan, focused on using school beautification projects to teach vocational and academic skills. This plan was later replicated in Britain’s African colonies.

At JEI Learning Center, we are proud to continue the tradition of hands-on learning and parental involvement that Virginia Randolph pioneered. At our centers, students are challenged not through rote memorization drills, but actually applying what they have learned to practical tasks. JEI prides itself on helping students connect the things they learn in school to problems they encounter in everyday life.

To get started with a JEI education, find a center near you!