HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN PASCO COUNTY

William E. Floyd Academy

This page was last revised on Dec. 28, 2016.

Floyd Academy was a four-room black school located at Moss Town, near Lacoochee.

On April 4, 1949, Vera L. Goodwin was appointed Principal of Floyd Academy.

School board minutes of Aug. 1, 1949, show Ida Mae Robinson was appointed as a teacher.

A state auditor’s report in 1950 stated that Floyd Academy could have been built for a little more than half of the money spent and was erected by the school board without advertising for bids or awarding a contract, in violation of state laws.

School board minutes of April 17, 1951, show Ida Mae Robinson, Susie King Johnson, and Francine Thompson were appointed as teachers.

School board minutes of June 17, 1952, show that the Superintendent was instructed to write to W. E. Floyd, Lacoochee, that there would be insufficient funds to construct a lunch room at Floyd Academy, as he had requested.

School board minutes of May 13, 1958, show that Francine Thompson, Ida Mae Robinson, and Susie Johnson were appointed as teachers at Floyd Academy.

School board minutes of April 28, 1960, show that Ida Mae Robinson, Susie Johnson, and Harold Hagins were appointed as teachers at Floyd Academy Junior High School.

School board minutes of May 15, 1962, show that Harold Hagin, Susie Johnson, and Moses D. Holmes were appointed as teachers at Floyd Academy.

School board minutes of Aug. 19, 1962, show that Benjamin Franklin Broxton was appointed a teacher at Floyd Academy.

A 1967 report showed that Floyd Academy had grades 1 through 8 and 5 teachers.

A 1968 listing showed that Carrie Hall Bowman was a teacher at Floyd Academy.

On April 16, 1968, the school board agreed to discontinue operation of the seventh and eighth grades at Floyd Academy, as the two grades operated with only 9 students during the current year. Students in the upper two grades were given a choice between Pasco Junior High School and Mickens High School. At this time the total enrollment at Floyd Academy was 112.

School board minutes of Aug. 4, 1970, show that Floyd Academy was closed. Its students transferred to Lacoochee Elementary School.

A 2007 Tampa Tribune article by Imani Asukile reported:

A school for blacks existed in Cummer and Sons Sawmill Housing Quarter, but the Rev. William E. Floyd wanted a better school. A school was established a stone’s throw from the tracks and named in his honor, according to Theresa Pressley, a Lacoochee native, and Issac Whitter, a graduate of Floyd Academy. ... Vera Lucas Goodwin, a member of one of Dade City’s oldest black families, served as principal for 22 of the 23 years the school was open. She was also the school’s musician and penmanship teacher. You can tell she had formal training from the commencement’s musical repertoire, which was truly American. If you didn’t know Floyd Academy was a black school, you would never know from any activity listed on the program. Goodwin and her staff were preparing students for life. I can see traces of a diverse education in the program. Instead of the Negro spirituals - songs composed by slaves, often based on Biblical themes - the program is replete with European music composed by greats such as Franz Schubert and Carl Orff. The program has a liturgical feel to it and even includes the Sanctus, an ancient hymn sung in Latin.

In Asukile’s article, Issac Whitter recalled a teacher named Etta Burks.

The famous baseball player Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who was born in Lacoochee in 1935, attended elementary school in a converted row house in Lacoochee and later attended Floyd Academy. In his book The Black Aces, Grant wrote about Vera Goodwin: “She never let the threadbare, impoverished conditions in our small schoolhouse dampen her passion for education or her passionate and loving drive to see her students learn and flourish. ... She was the one who identified and fostered my ability to sing and perform. ... She gave me my first record, a recording of Johann Strauss, and then gave me albums by Eddy Arnold and by John Lee Hooker.”

Interviewed in 1968, Grant said of Vera Lucas Goodwin: “She was the principal of my school, music teacher, and baseball, basketball, and track coach. She’s wonderful and if I owe anybody anything for developing my ability as an athlete and as an entertainer, it’s Mrs. Goodwin.”

PRINCIPALS

1947-64 Vera L. Goodwin
1964-65 Littleton Long
1965-70 Vera Goodwin


Ceremony to Honor Principal of All-Black School

This article appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on Feb. 22, 1990.

By BRYANNA LATOOF

The late Vera Lucas Goodwin had a favorite saying that she routinely drummed into her pupils’ heads.

“As long as you’re green, you will grow,” she would say. “But when you get ripe you get rotten.”

It wasn’t until years later that Juanita Harpe understood the full meaning of that proverb.

“She meant you can grow; you can become whatever you want to be. But when you get the big head, nobody could tell you anything. You know it all,” said Ms. Harpe, a former pupil at Floyd Academy.

Floyd Academy, Lacoochee’s former all-black elementary school, is nothing more today than a slab of concrete. But the memory of Mrs. Goodwin, the school’s last principal, fared better.

Today, her portrait will be added to the wall at Lacoochee Elementary that already is adorned with the pictures of that school’s past principals. In honor of Mrs. Goodwin and Black History Month, a ceremony is scheduled for this morning as the portrait is hung.

“On the wall we have three former principals going back to 1934,” said Renee Sedlack, Lacoochee Elementary’s current principal. “Then I discovered that there was another school in the Lacoochee area called Floyd Academy. That was the black school until it was integrated prior to 1970.

“We felt that because descendants of people who went to Floyd are students here, it would be nice to include their principal here,” Mrs. Sedlack said.

School officials invited Mrs. Goodwin’s brother, Elwyn Lucas, to be on hand for the ceremony. When Lucas hangs the portrait of his sister next to the other principals, about a half-dozen people, including Superintendent Tom Weightman, will witness the event.

Mrs. Sedlack said school officials decided to wait until this month, in honor of Black History Month, to hang the portrait.

“I think it really kind of ties everything together,” Mrs. Sedlack said. “Years ago, people didn’t have the opportunity to be educated together.”

In addition to her duties as principal from 1947 to 1970, Mrs. Goodwin taught music and chorus classes during her tenure.

“We would go out singing, and she’d form the little chorus group, and we’d go to the radio station in Dade City and several places. We’d go and perform. She was terrific, a very good person. She loved kids,” Ms. Harpe said.

Mrs. Goodwin had no children besides the pupils at her school.

Ms. Harpe, whose 11-year-old daughter attends fifth grade at Lacoochee Elementary, said she tells her daughter about days gone by, about being black during a time when water fountains had signs proclaiming “colored” and “white.”

But her daughter lives in a different time and basically “doesn’t know any differently,” Ms. Harpe said.

“I think (the system) is working,” she said. “I think like everything else, there’s always room for improvement. But we’ll get there.”

Mrs. Goodwin’s brother said he is flattered that his sister will be the focus of today’s ceremony.

“It shows a little appreciation for the years she put in and some of the things she did for the school and the Lacoochee community,” he said.

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