Public education lost one of its more vocal and dedicated supporters on April 24, when Dr. Elizabeth Daniels—dentist, teacher, community activist, and school board member—passed away.
Daniels became one of the first elected members of Virginia’s Portsmouth City School Board in 1996, and was serving as Vice Chairman of the Portsmouth Public School board when she passed away. She had a long association with the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA), serving on their board of directors from 2002-07, and as their president in 2006. Dr. Daniels also served on the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Delegate Assembly from 2005-07, and on NSBA’s Nominating Committee from 2006-07. In addition, she was an active member of both NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members and of the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE), serving on its Steering Committee from 2006-13.
She was committed to advancing quality public education. Her commitment to ensuring that all children have access to a quality education was most recently seen in her active participation in the development of NSBA’s 2013 publication, “Addressing the Out-of-School Suspension Crisis: A Policy Guide for School Board Members.”
In additional to her school board service, Dr. Daniels had served as a middle and high school teacher and as a professor at Meharry School of Dentistry over the course of her career.
Speaking on Daniels’ passing and legacy, Van Henri White, Chair, CUBE Steering Committee, stated “Her passing has made me reflect on all the powerful and truly memorable moments that the CUBE family shared with Dr. Daniels. It was not unusual for her to pull me to the side and share her insights and experiences with me. During those moments, I felt so blessed and honored to listen to her counsel and insights. During those moments I felt like I was finally having a chance to talk with one of those trailblazers that I had only read about in history books.”
Daniels received numerous awards and honors including the VSBA’s All Virginia School Board Member Award in 2005 and the VSBA’s Academy Award of Distinction.
A representative from NSBA attended the homegoing celebration in honor of Daniels’ life and legacy on May 2.