Mary Alice Franklin Hatwood Futrell

Mary Alice Franklin Hatwood Futrell (b. 1940–)

Educator and Organization Leader

Growing up in Lynchburg, Mary Alice Franklin Hatwood Futrell attended segregated public schools before earning a degree in business education at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) in 1962. She soon began teaching at an Alexandria high school and joined a group of teachers working for the successful desegregation of the city’s schools. Active in the Virginia Education Association, Futrell served two terms as its president, from 1976 to 1978. In 1983 she was elected to the first of an unprecedented three terms as president of the National Education Association. During her six-year tenure she stressed the importance of professional development for teachers to ensure high-quality public education for every child.

Futrell earned a doctorate in education in 1992 and joined the faculty of The George Washington University, where she served as dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development from 1995 to 2010. Committed to strengthening public schools and establishing high standards for teachers and students, she is a faculty member of GWU's Education Policy Studies Program and is codirector of the Center for Curriculum, Standards, and Technology. In 1993, she was the founding president of Education International, which promotes quality education and human rights worldwide.

In 2004 Futrell received UNESCO's Jan Amos Comenius Medal for her continuing efforts to ensure that children around the world have access to education. Since 2005, Education International has granted an annual award named for Futrell that honors educators whose efforts have significantly influenced education and equal opportunities, especially for girls and women.

2014 Strong Men and Women in Virginia History honoree Mary Alice Futrell.

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Discussion Questions for Teachers and Students:

  1. What sorts of challenges do you think Mrs. Futrell faced the first time she taught in an integrated classroom?
  2. Do you think segregation still exists? Give examples.