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History-making educator looks back days before 100th birthday

History-making educator,{ }Nina Honemond Clarke, looks back days before 100th birthday. (Photo: ABC7's Kellye Lynn)

Paging through photo albums brings back memories of a life well lived.

"She's very sophisticated and she's a gracious lady," Camille Battle told ABC7 News.

Battle is talking about her mother, Nina Honemond Clarke, who has made history in Montgomery County.

"I wanted to make a good impression on outside people since I am the first of this and the first of that," Clarke recalled.

The retired educator is the granddaughter of slaves. She received a bachelor's degree in education at Hampton Institute in Virginia; then a master's degree at Boston University. After the 1954 Supreme Court decision that desegregated public schools, Clarke became one of the first African-American teachers in Montgomery County to educate white children.

"It was shaky at [times] but I said to myself, 'I'm going to do this.' because my supervisor thinks I can do anything in an elementary school,'" she shared.

In 1962, the Board of Education selected Clarke as the first African-American teacher specialist in reading/language arts in the county. In 1968, Clarke became principal of Aspen Hill Elementary School in Rockville. She was the second African-American woman principal of an integrated school; remaining there until her retirement in 1973.

"I was there to teach. Take it out of me and give it to them," she said.

Now, just days before her 100th birthday, the retired educator, author, lecturer, and historian looks back on her life with pride.

"Teach the children. I wanted to get it to them and I did," Clarke stated.

On Sunday, 100 friends and family members will gather in Oxon Hill to celebrate Clarke's 100th birthday.

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