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An Update on Our Vance Elementary School Community

September 16, 2020

Good Morning Vance Students, Staff and Families.  This is Dr. Gene with an update about your school community.

As we move forward in Vance’s renaming process, I think it’s important that we agree from the very start that there’s a big difference between a museum’s purpose and that of a  school’s.  A museum is a place to remember, reflect and learn; whereas, I believe the name of a school is an important place of honor.  Our purpose in renaming Vance Elementary School is not about erasing history but instead about finding a way to express a new image for the building that reflects the current values of Vance’s students, staff, families and greater community.  

This process is not one I take lightly. 

Please know that renaming Vance Elementary School will not be a decision solely made by one or two people; instead, I want it to be a collaborative effort that includes feedback from as many stakeholders as possible.  That’s why a task force has been created.  Representing a wide array of perspectives that make Vance Elementary School such a unique place to work, learn and grow, the task force is made up of representatives from current Vance students, Vance alumni, teachers, staff members, families, future families as well as community members.  

At this point, the task force has held two meetings.  They have come up with a projected timeline, which is estimated to conclude with the Asheville City Board of Education making their final decision in February 2021,  as well as discussed ways to engage with additional members of the Vance community.  In order to do just that, please join the task force at one of their upcoming virtual town halls.  Each one will take place over Zoom.  Although you are more than welcome to attend any meeting, please know that their meeting on September 24th is specifically geared toward Vance staff and families. 

During the meeting, you’ll hear more from the task force about its operations, their projected timeline and why they believe racial equity/justice must be at the forefront of our decision making process.  Additionally, you’ll be able to rate guiding principles by their importance, share what category of names you find most appealing as well as bring your own recommendations before the taskforce. 

Thank you for your continued support of both our district and Vance Elementary School.  We look forward to seeing you during one of our upcoming virtual town halls. 

June 16, 2020

For more than 130 years, Asheville City Schools has prided itself on our constant desire to adapt to our changing world as we strive to best meet the needs of our students, staff, families and community. 

 Therefore, please know that the name of Vance Elementary School will be brought before the Asheville City Board of Education during their June 30th meeting.  Should our Superintendent, Dr. Gene Freeman, receive their approval to begin the renaming process, our district will start an extensive campaign to receive feedback from as many stakeholders as possible, especially those who currently make up the Vance Elementary School family. 

 In Asheville City Schools, we know that history cannot be ignored; however, we also know that some history should be in museums, as opposed to on the marquee of a school building whose main focus is creating a supportive, loving environment where all students can learn.  

 In our district, excellence with equity is more than a motto.  It is the driving force of every decision we make.  Therefore, we would be remiss to the social and emotional well being of children, especially our students of color, if they were to continue to attend a school named after a slave owner, as his stance on racial equity did not match the current beliefs and feelings of our Vance students, staff, families and community.