Fannie Wilkinson Fitzgerald was born in Amelia County, Virginia on July 27, 1930. She is the youngest of eleven children.
Mrs. Fitzgerald always wanted to be a teacher. With hard work and dedication, she was able to attend college. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Virginia Union University in 1952. Her first teaching position was as head teacher in Amelia. It was a two-room school, with no cafeteria, indoor plumbing, or central heating. After teaching there for three years, Mrs. Fitzgerald decided to relocate.
In August of 1956, Mrs. Fitzgerald was offered a job in Prince William County. She was assigned to Antioch-McCrae Elementary school, a school for African-Americans in the western end of the county.
Mrs. Fitzgerald’s dedication and commitment to children prompted her to better
prepare herself to teach her students. She traveled to New York to attend Columbia University. After graduating from Columbia University, Mrs. Fitzgerald began teaching at Jennie Dean School in Manassas, Virginia.
In 1964 , the Prince William County Public School Board appointed Fannie and three other African-American teachers to integrate the all-white schools in Prince William County. She was assigned to Fred Lynn Elementary and Middle School. As a result of the hard work, fortitude and perseverance by Fannie and the three other teachers, Prince William County Public schools were fully integrated in September, 1965.
When asked about being one of the first teachers to integrate Prince William County Public Schools, Mrs. Fitzgerald replied, “Children are children. It doesn’t matter what color they are.” During the 1964-65 school year, Mrs. Fitzgerald became the first African-American to teach at Manassas Park Elementary School.
In 1968, Mrs. Fitzgerald was selected to be the first elementary supervisor of the integrated schools in Prince William County.
Mrs. Fitzgerald’s longest service was to students at Dale City Elementary School from 1971-1988. During those years, she was a fourth grade teacher and a learning disabilities specialist. After thirty-five years of outstanding service, Mrs. Fitzgerald retired in June of 1988. She continued to volunteer and serve the children of Prince William County in numerous ways.
As a result of Mrs. Fannie Fitzgerald’s historic contributions to Prince William County Public Schools, the school board voted to name an elementary school for her. Located on Benita Fitzgerald Drive, a street named for her oldest daughter, an Olympic gold medalist, the school stands as a testament to academic excellence. Mrs. Fitzgerald died April 7, 2016. Her legacy and strive for excellence continues today.