The Drew-Smith School
Although Black students were taught in the Gum Springs area by Black teachers much earlier than the mid-20th century, The Drew-Smith School was officially opened in 1951 in Gum Springs, Virginia at 8100 Anderson Road, built by the Black community that lives there and the nearby Quaker community, although the Fairfax County Public Schools website will not tell you that. According to Fairfax County Public Schools, “Drew-Smith Elementary School opened during the 1952-53 school year, and was closed in June 1965. The majority of Drew-Smith students were integrated into Bucknell, Gunston, Hollin Hall, Hollin Meadows, Hybla Valley, and Mount Vernon Woods elementary schools. Drew-Smith was converted into a special education center and became a pilot site for the ‘Culturally Disadvantaged Program’ (the forerunner of the Head Start program). The building currently houses the Gum Springs Community Center and the Gum Springs Museum.” It does not mention that it was “named after Dr. Charles R. Drew and Mrs. Annie M. Smith”, as the Gum Springs Museum BlogSpot does. Nor does it mention how Dr. Drew was a Black “physician, surgeon, and medical researcher [who developed improved] techniques for blood storage [as well as developed] large-scale blood banks in early Word War II” nor that he “protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific evidence”, and unlike the Gum Springs BlogSpot, the Fairfax County website does not mention how Mrs. Annie M. Smith was “the first Black teacher at the Gum Springs School in the late 19th century”. Although FC Public Schools omits this information from its website, it covers the history of white schools in the area extensively.
The Drew-Smith School was the schoolhouse for the Black community of Gum Springs from 1951 to 1965. In 1964, a pilot program called Head Start (for culturally deprived students) was first tried out here and a couple of other schools for students of color. The next year in 1965, Drew-Smith School was closed down because Fairfax County was finally moving forward with school integration, forcing the Black children who attended to go to majority-white schools instead. The same year it was “closed down”, the small schoolhouse, which had been deemed inadequate for the general student population, was turned into a school for mentally disabled and “emotionally disturbed” children, at times providing education for upwards of sixty children at a time. In 1972, it was again closed down, this time officially (without much warning to the administration, teachers, and students). The children were forced to integrate to the same schools the Black children had been back in 1965. The old Drew-Smith School building now houses the Gum Springs Community Museum.