Who Was Bessie Carmichael?
The following is from the dedication program of the Bessie Carmichael School during the 1953-1954 school year:
The Bessie Carmichael School was so named in honor of the late Bessie Carmichael, principal of Franklin and Lincoln Elementary schools for 20 years.
Miss Carmichael served the people of South of Market (SOMA) with unfailing devotion. Her great heart had room for all. No child or parent ever came to her in emotional or material need and was turned away.
During the depression years, she arose at dawn to bake bread, ladle out cereal, and with the help of her staff fed children who had come to school without breakfast.
At holiday times she filled baskets with food and collected clothes for those in need.
Because of her outstanding abilities and success as a principal, many opportunities to serve in newer and finer schools were offered to Miss Carmichael. Each time she refused to leave. She was happiest working with those she chose to call "my children".
When the proposed freeway forced the closing of Franklin School, the problem of relocating her children became a task of utmost importance. Miss Carmichael fought tirelessly to win Columbia Park for the site of the new school. It was no easily one battle as opposition was strong and powerful. With energy and determination, she swept every obstacle aside. There was no rest for her until the park was freed and the plans were drawn.
Each child who plays hop scotch in the broad tree lined playground, every boy who bats baseball after school, each child whose singing rings out in the All Purpose Room, or sips his milk, or eats a well balanced lunch, owes a debt he can never repay.
Her teachers too have much that they owe. She taught by example that the soft word is better than the harsh, that in every child there is something good, that many times the friendly touch of a hand meant more than words.
This is more than a school, more than an attractive building with green walls, slanted roofs and modern equipment. Five days a week it is an active, laughing, learning, living memorial to the deep love and abiding confidence Bessie Carmichael had in her children.