A Baltimore icon will soon add another accomplishment to a long list of accolades.
Eva Scott, the first Black teacher hired at Western High School in 1958, impacted thousands of students, families and colleagues in a career that spanned more than 40 years.
Her efforts in and out of the classroom led to her being regarded among the most influential educators in Baltimore City Public Schools history. Scott will be recognized as a lifetime gold medal honoree at the Western High School Foundation’s first-ever Golden High Tea gathering on Nov. 4, 2023.
Western High School Foundation President Monique Cox said this year’s Golden High Tea will focus particularly on Western’s Teaching Academy of Maryland along with honoring former educators.
Cox, a graduate of Western in 1993, was a manager on a few sports teams so she often crossed paths with Scott as a student.
“Eva Scott is so beloved. We all loved Ms. Scott,” Cox said.
“Ms. Scott always wanted the best and would not allow us to aim low. She ensured that we knew what we were capable of and that we had the confidence to excel in sports.”
Hired by Western High School, the oldest all-girl public school in the United States, Scott began her professional career as a physical education teacher before becoming the school’s athletic director. Scott was the second female athletic director in the Baltimore City Schools system, she said.
A native of Glen Arm in northern Baltimore County, Scott is the great-granddaughter of Joshua Gwynn, a man who was enslaved in the town and bought his freedom at a young age before becoming a prosperous landowner and farmer. Scott went on to graduate from Carver High School in Towson (now Carver Center for Arts and Technology).
After graduating from Morgan State, Scott began teaching at Western in 1958 when the school had an all-white faculty – many of whom didn’t want her there, including the principal.
Due to her race, she faced opposition prior to even stepping foot on the school’s campus, which, at the time, was in downtown Baltimore before relocating to its current site on Falls Road.
“At that time, they did not want any Blacks on the faculty at Western,” Scott said, recalling the principal’s strong feelings of contempt and aversion toward her.
Despite the considerable disdain from colleagues, Scott said the students were a delight to be around.
“There were people who outwardly showed they didn’t want me at Western, but the students were so wonderful,” Scott said. “I found out later that they had meetings to see what they could do to drive me out of Western. Later when they got to know me, everything worked out.”
City schools were largely segregated around the time Scott began at Western. There were only a handful of Black students at Western when she started teaching there, she said.
Western’s second Black teacher, a home economics educator, was hired in the early 1960s. Gradually, the faculty, staff and student body changed from a demographic standpoint. At the turn of the century, the school was predominantly Black.
“No indeed,” Scott said with a chuckle when asked whether she envisioned herself making history in Baltimore City as a freshman at Morgan. “I didn’t think that.”
Her goal was never to be a historical figure or icon. Scott just wanted to teach. The countless lives she impacted while at Western between 1958 and 2002 happened naturally, she said.
Scott said she plans on attending the Golden High Tea event. She found out that she would be a lifetime gold medal honoree when Western High School Foundation’s Irvina Mallory called to inform her.
Not only does the athletic center at Western bear her namesake, but so does the stadium adjacent to the school (along with Poly athletic director Bob Lumsden). She is blown away that the school is making another gesture to honor her legacy.
“They’ve done so, so many things for me. I can’t believe they still remember me and continue to do something for me. It’s overwhelming,” Scott said.
Through all of the ups and downs that Scott endured, she stayed grounded by following a simple guiding principle: treating others right.
“I always believed in the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” she said. “I always believed in fairness and just being good. I believed in doing the right thing.”
Golden High Tea will celebrate and promote the legacy of superb teaching. It is scheduled for Nov. 4, 2023 at 3 p.m. at the Delta Marriott at The Village of Cross Keys which is located 5100 Falls Road.