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Kudos for Accoo

ometimes a person makes history with a single crucial accomplishment. But even after Ida Mitchel Accoo ’45 helped Salem School District integrate its elementary schools in 1948. she remained committed to education and community in a way that touched thousands of lives over more than 50 years and continues to affect the future through her example and hard work.

After earning her degree in an accelerated program in January 1945, Accoo began her career at the segregated Grant Street School, adjacent to the all-white elementary school. After three years, Accoo signed a contract to work in the newly integrated Salem Grammar School. “The transition went fairly smoothly, though the first day was a day of apprehension,” she explained. She is one of two surviving teachers who participated in that historic integration process.

Accoo taught in Salem for 41 years. Her dedication extended beyond the classroom to a summer program about New Jersey’s geography, history, and culture. “It was exceptionally exciting to show our students, many of whom had never been out of South Jersey, that the state isn’t all flat,” she said.

In 1986, Accoo retired but continues to serve students as a member of the Salem Board of Education and the Educational Steering Committee. Her goal is to get parents involved in the education of their children. She remains motivated to stay involved after so many years by her faith in kids. “They can keep us from falling apart at the seams,” she said.

 
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