WHAT’S IN A NAME: Ethel Kight Elementary School

Published 2:30 am Saturday, February 25, 2023

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On Gordon Road in LaGrange sits historic Ethel W. Kight Elementary School. The school is named after Ethel W. Kight, who worked as an educator in Troup County for 49 years.

According to the Troup County Archives, the school was originally established in approximately 1956 as Ethel Kight High School, the designated high school for Black students before desegregation. 

Kight taught at McGregor Street School, later called Kelley Grammar School, from 1939-1945. She was appointed as the school system’s only Jeanes Supervisor in 1945, a position she held until 1970. As Jeanes Supervisor, she was the modern-day equivalent to assistant superintendent of schools for Black schools at the time. When schools were desegregated,  Kight played an integral role.

The school would be known as Mount Beulah School but was later changed to honor Kight after a petition was presented to the board of education by Oliver Greene, who worked in the school system for 37 years.  

During her tenure with Troup County, Kight oversaw many changes in education, including the introduction and implementation of teacher-in-service summer school and a merger of rural schools into the formerly named Mount Beulah in 1956. 

The school was accredited in 1957 as a consolidated high school, and it included all grades — first through twelfth. The secondary grades merged into Troup High School in 1970 and the building was used for Troup Junior High School and then later for Lee’s Crossing Middle School.  

According to the Archives, Kight was also instrumental in implementing the Freedom of Choice Program that brought limited desegregation to Troup County in 1970. 

She would be vital in helping the dual system merge into one unified and fully integrated school system. 

Kight’s work didn’t stop at education as she and other volunteers opened a library for the Black community that would later be named in her honor. 

She served as president of the National Congress of Color Parents and Teachers from 1961 to 1967 and was president of the Georgia Parents and Teachers association.