Rosa Phillips Stonestreet, 1859-1936

Historical Marker #2196 in Louisville recognizes the achievements of pioneer educator Rosa Anna (Phillips) Stonestreet.

Stonestreet was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, on February 18, 1859. She died in Louisville on April 7, 1936, and is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery. She graduated from the Nazareth Academy in 1877. The Nazareth Academy was the first convent school west of the Appalachian Mountains and was operated by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Nazareth Academy became Nazareth College in 1922, and, in 1971, merged with Spalding University which is currently located in Louisville.

After graduation, Stonestreet did not begin her career in education until 1890, when she became a teacher. On November 3, 1897, she was elected superintendent of the common schools of Jefferson County by popular vote, and served in this role until 1910. Her election was quite an achievement considering that it occurred twenty years before women achieved the right to vote. As recent as 1997, she had been the only female to serve as superintendent in the Jefferson County School District.

During her tenure as superintendent, Stonestreet focused her efforts on financial problems in the school district. She also worked to ensure that education was conducted by accredited teachers. She was a proponent of educational legislation passed in 1908 that ensured that public education was provided by professionals as opposed to the current trustee system. This was a governing system in which three elected trustees were responsible for the education within a school district. In some areas, the elected trustees were apathetic toward education and might be illiterate themselves. Because the trustees held considerable financial power within the districts, there were a number of instances of corruption.

To honor Stonestreet, in 1994 the Jefferson County Board of Education renamed Stonestreet Elementary School to Rosa Phillips Stonestreet Elementary School.