Erwin Montessori Elementary School is located at 3012 East Bessemer Avenue where Bessemer is close to intersecting Market Street- four miles from the center of town. Erwin Montessori is named for Clyde Atkinson Erwin (1897-1952) who was a lifelong educator, ultimately serving as Superintendent of Public Instruction. (We can't help but wonder if he is related to the person currently in that position, Dr. June Atkinson). Ethel Stephens Arnett says about Dr. Erwin, "(h)e not only had a clear, pleasing, and convincing voice, but he also had a brilliant, well-balanced mind. When he spoke people listened because he had something to say" (p. 384).* That just about the nicest think someone could say about another person. Dr. Erwin was known as an evangel of public education in North Carolina. He fought for funding and and for programs that would help our students, including expanding the school year from 8 to 9 months and establishing a Division of Special Instruction to promote the education of handicapped** children and adults. Due to his national involvement, Dr. Erwin brought considerable positive, national recognition to North Carolina. As an aside, his son was a great educational administrator and, in his earlier years, was a teaching fellow at UNC- Chapel Hill (read Clyde, jr.'s obituary here and more about his dad, here).
In the above photo, you see a sign, advertising Erwin Elementary School, which in 2001 became a Montessori School, teaching not only the North Carolina state curriculum, but also the hands-on, differentiated Montessori curriculum. We can't find a date for when the school was originally built; however, it predates Arnett's (1973) book. If you look at the façade in the photo below, you will see that the school has a Frank-Lloyd Wright-esque, long, low, one-with-its-envoronment architectural style.
* (For Whom The Public Schools Were Named, Greensboro, North Carolina, 1973).
** common term used in earlier decades, (read more..... Arnett, p. 389).