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The East High Alumni Page presents:

Nomination of Joel P. Snider
as name for new school

Update: July 31, 2012 - The Shelby County Board of Education, which now oversees Memphis City Schools, voted tonight to name a new school in southeast Memphis Belle Forest Community School. A school staff-neighborhood committee submitted final suggestions to the Board, the editor of The East High Alumni's page suggestion to name the new school after East's first principal, J.P. Snider, was not among those recommended by the committee.
Source: The East High Alumni Page, July 31

The editor of The East High Alumni Page has suggested to Memphis City Schools the name of a new southeast Memphis elementary school honor the memory of Mr. Joel P. Snider, the first principal of East High School who served in that capacity until his untimely death 16 years later. Below is the message sent to the school system.

To:     Ms. Judy C. Keys
          Southeast Regional Office
          Memphis City Schools
          Airways Middle School (Loc. 733)
          2601 Ketchum Road
          Memphis, TN 38114-6288

June 20, 2012

[Delivered Electronically]

I would like to nominate for consideration for the name of the new school in southeast Memphis the name of Joel P. Snider.

Joel P. Snider, who tragically was taken from his school and community in a fatal traffic accident in 1964, was the highly respected first principal of East High School in Memphis and remained in that position until the time of his death 16 years later.

In 1948 a new high school was opening in east Memphis. The Board of Education was going all out for this school as the post-war expectations for great achievements for the children and the nation were in place. The Board spent the most money ever for school property when it bought the land at Poplar Avenue and Holmes Street, and spent and extraordinary amount of money in building the physically impressive school. To lead this new school, a special principal would be needed, the best of the best. Mr. Joel P. Snider was chosen and fully met the expectations of providing a school offering superior academic performance and good citizenship.

The summer before East High opened In 1948, Mr. Snider took the helm of the new city high school.

"In his sixteen years at East Mr. Snider became a steadfast standard by which so many graduates have patterned their lives but which few have equaled and none have surpassed." (Mustang, 1965)

Mr. Snider became a revered legend during his time at East High. Parents and students spoke about him literally in reverential tones. He lead East High School to the forefront of academic excellence, setting an example that would persist many years after his untimely death.

A Virginia gentleman, polished and sophisticated, with the Virginia accent, he expected the best of those at East High, administrators, teachers, and students, and it seems no one who ever faced him wanted to disappoint him.

Joel P. Snider  was a product of the oldest free public high school in the United States of America, S. Y. M. S. — Eaton Academy in Hampton, Virginia. From there he went to Hampton High, then to the University of Virginia where he was a member of the prestigious honor society Phi Beta Kappa. After college, his first teaching job was at Memphis University School. He followed that as an English teacher at Tredwell, then he taught languages at Humes High. His career with Memphis City Schools continued as he became principal of Leroy Pope School, moving later to take the top position at Snowden Junior High. He was principal there when appointed to lead East High.

To the first graduating class (1951) of East High, Mr. Snider wrote that he trusted that they had acquired "something of the great-fundamentals of learning." Mr. Snider continued by expressing his hope for each graduate: "[A]nd he has become more keenly aware, I hope, of the great principals of honesty, fairness, and courtesy."

Honesty, fairness, and courtesy along with expectations that each person would do their very best well describes Mr. J.P. Snider.

Mr. Snider mixed fun with the work of the school day. He wrote, "most students should enjoy their school years. We sincerely hope that East High School students find happiness, as well as intellectual and ethical instruction, within its walls." Mr. Snider himself enjoyed watching athletic events, especially football. His Jaguar automobile was also a little beyond what the typical school principal drove in those days.

Tragically, this fine man's life was ended prematurely, when on July 30, 1964, a traffic mishap not far from Pickwick Lake took him away from us.

I respectfully suggest the new school be named the Joel P. Snider Elementary School in memory of this man and in honor of the principles for which he stood.


Ken Welch