Ruth Batson


“She always gave back to the community, quietly and effectively.”

I asked my students this question: “What do people who live elsewhere think of when they think of Boston?”

Responses included the city’s distinctive accent, Revolutionary War history, and strong sports culture.


When I asked if there were any negative associations, however, the only suggestion – to our great amusement – was “dirty water.” Boston’s former notoriety for racial division was unknown.


In fairness, I didn’t know about it either when I was a 6th grader.

Moreover, that painful history wouldn’t be obvious from looking at the students, who look a lot like the city. Our classroom’s diversity is a tribute to the work of Ruth Batson, whose obituary we read together.

In reading about her life, we learned about Boston’s school desegregation efforts, like busing and Metco.

We also learned the following vocabulary:

personable, exudeinadequaterevitalize, and commendation.


To our additional amusement, her obituary taught us the figure of speech “butting heads.” (I had to decline, alas, the enthusiastic offer of two kids to demonstrate for their classmates its literal meaning.)