Fayetteville School Board approves naming middle school in honor of Superintendent John L Colbert

A new middle school is under construction on Rupple Road in west Fayetteville.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

FAYETTEVILLE — A new middle school in west Fayetteville will be named in honor of Superintendent John L Colbert.

The School Board on Thursday approved a proposal to name the school the John L Colbert Middle School.

Construction began last fall on the school, which is located on Rupple Road, about a quarter of a mile north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The $33 million project includes a 100,000-square-foot, two-story building for fifth and sixth graders, and is scheduled to open in August 2023, said district spokesman Alan Wilbourn.

School Board president Nika Waitsman recommended the name at the board’s meeting in April.

“The school board members agreed that naming this new school in honor of Dr. Colbert is absolutely appropriate,” said Waitsman in a statement. “It is a fitting tribute to his unprecedented career of service to Fayetteville Public Schools that spans 44 years and has blazed so many new trails.”

Colbert plans to retire at the end of the current school year.

During his career with Fayetteville Public Schools, Colbert has served as a special education teacher, as principal at Jefferson and Holcomb elementary schools, as assistant superintendent for Elementary Education, as associate superintendent for Support Services, and as superintendent of the District. He is the first Black person to serve Fayetteville Public Schools as a principal, assistant superintendent, associate superintendent, and superintendent.

“I am deeply grateful to the school board for this honor,” Colbert said. “Fayetteville Public Schools has been my life since I started as a classroom teacher in 1975. I have had the privilege of working with extraordinary educators throughout my career here in Fayetteville, and some of them have had schools named after them. To think that now my name will also live on in association with one of our schools is very humbling.”

The new school is part of the district’s Focus on the Future initiative, and is being funded using money from a $111 million bond restructuring approved by voters in February 2020 to address various needs, including renovation and upgrades of facilities, land acquisition, new school construction, and energy efficiency projects.