200 years in the making

Local author Gloria Brown writes Medina Schools history book


“The Story of Medina’s Schools” by Gloria Brown, 2016

Almost 200 years of moments that defined Medina City Schools had been lost in time. Gloria Brown took on the project of piecing together MCS timeline of development and evolution.  Her research constructed the district’s history in a book titled, The Story of Medina’s Schools 1817-2017.

Medina City Schools has a rich history. The district has evolved from a one-room log cabin schoolhouse to seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and a 500,000 square foot recently renovated high school.  

Gloria Brown is a freelance writer for The Beacon Journal and has also taught literature at Akron. Tom Lehrer, a former assistant superintendent first suggested to Brown that she write a book on the history of Medina City Schools.

In her opening acknowledgments, Brown credits Lehrer, former Superintendent Dave Knight and Medina school alumnus, Murray Van Epp. Van Epp and his wife, Susan, paid for the publication of the book. She also gives thanks to many Medina employees and residents for their contributions, which included their stories, photographs, and artwork.

She also notes that several people she interviewed passed away before the book was published. “It was my pleasure and privilege to hear their stories about a long-gone Medina,” Brown writes.

The Story Of Medina´s Schools soon became Brown’s main focus after taking on the project.  ¨I spent about a whole day just gathering pictures at the Historical Society,¨ Brown said. ¨It took about a year to write a rough draft and be ready to have edited.¨

Brown’s book gives the history in text as well as photographs gathered from the Historical Society. The front cover is a photograph of Miss Ella Canavan with her class of 1905. The back cover shows The Lincoln School, Medina’s first high school, as well as “The Little School” which held Medina’s first kindergarten.

In 2009, two new elementary schools were opened. In preparing for the opening of the schools, a naming committee was assembled and nominations to name the buildings were gathered.  

Jill Paradise, a MCS parent and paraprofessional at Claggett, submitted the nomination to name one of the buildings: Eliza Northrop Elementary School.

“The land that the school was to be built on was situated in the woods of Reagan Park” said Paradise. “I thought back to the history of Medina and looked up the early settlement of Medina county. I could visualize that one room schoolhouse in the woods that Eliza Northrop taught in as Medina’s first school teacher.”

According to Brown’s research, Northrop, born in 1798 in Connecticut, came to Medina Township in 1817 with her family. “She organized the first school in Medina Township” in the same year.

A friend of Brown discovered Northrop’s grave in Weymouth Cemetery in 2013. A photo of her gravestone is included in the book.

Ultimately, Paradise’s submission won approval, as did another recommending Ralph E. Waite.

Gloria Brown always had the district first in her mind throughout the writing process. As noted in the front of the book, all  proceeds go to the Medina City Schools Foundation. She was looking for experiences rather than profit for herself.

Brown said, ¨My favorite part about writing this book was making discoveries and learning the untold history of Medina.”

This book truly represents MCS and what it has become today. Copies of the book can be purchased in the Medina City Schools Board Office for $19.95. It can also be found at Cool Beans on the square.

While the MCS Foundation benefits from sales of the book, readers will benefit in learning about 200 years of the Medina community and its ongoing support of education.

Superintendent Aaron Sable is ready to start a new chapter in Medina but emphasized it is crucial to not forget our past.

“Not many districts have that kind of history,” said Sable. “I’m excited about creating a new dynamic where everybody has a say and to develop a strong partnership throughout our district.¨

¨It is an exciting time in Medina City Schools.¨