Background Information: Mildred B. Poole Elementary School at Ft Bragg is a 109,106 square foot structure designed to accommodate a population of approximately 625 Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade students and 66 staff.
The facility is a 21st Century design concept, with 8 education neighborhoods each consisting of 4 learning studios that surround a shared learning hub. Each Neighborhood has a staff collaboration area, a group learning area, one-to-one learning area, sinks for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) experiments, student toilets and teacher storage space. Operable glass partition walls separate each learning studio from the learning hub and provide for flexible teaching and collaboration arrangements.
Open concept features such as a central commons area with performance stage and monumental staircase, dining area and gymnasium make up a major portion of the 1st floor. Other typical school featured areas including a music room, art room, Information Center, full service kitchen with dual serving lines, administration suite, central storage and Information Technology are also located on the first floor.
The school is expected to be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified facility with sustainable design strategies and enhancements for energy efficient lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The HVAC system is a hybrid geothermal system with 3 well zones. 21st Century teaching tools such as a roof garden area, solar panels for hot water, a rainwater harvesting system, and an energy dashboard for monitoring utility use are incorporated into the building.
The Mildred B. Poole Elementary School was named in honor of the woman who coordinated the integration of Fort Bragg Schools in 1951, years ahead of Brown v. Board of Education. The Brown decision outlawed segregation in all public schools.
A few years after President Harry Truman ordered the integration of the armed forces in 1948, Poole was approached by an African-American Army lieutenant who asked her why his daughter could not attend Fort Bragg Schools. During that time, minority children were sent to segregated Cumberland County Schools off post. "I had no real answer, but to tell him, 'It's because of the color of her skin,'" recalled Poole in an article published in the Fayetteville Observer in 1992.
She also is responsible for the 1951-1952 integrated school budget approval that established the Fort Bragg school system independent of Cumberland County Schools, allowing it to operate with federal funds. Given the racial climate of the South, the decision to integrate Fort Bragg Schools did not go unopposed. Years later, Col. F.J. Donoghue, who was the post dependent school officer at the time, credited Poole's management style for the lack of complaints received.
Mrs. Poole was the first chief administrator and principal of the Fort Bragg School System, 1948 to 1953. In addition to school integration, some of Poole's accomplishments toward the advancement of quality education for all school-age children included milestones such as:
Poole left Fort Bragg Schools in 1956, but continued her work in education as a supervisor of the Clinton City School System in Sampson County, North Carolina. Over the years, she maintained that integration was the course to take. "Integration was what, in the sight of God, we should have done. I've never, ever had the feeling what we did at Fort Bragg was wrong," asserted Poole, who died in 1992.