Miss Ella Robinson A Teacher Extraordinaire


Teachers versus Educators. There is a significant difference between the two words.

The word ‘educator’ is used mainly as a noun. An educator leaves a permanent impression upon those taught. Many a time those taught consider such a person who has left a permanent impression upon him/her as their mentor. It is thus, understood that not all teachers can be called educators. Only those teachers who leave a permanent mark in the hearts of the students can be called educators.

On the other hand, a teacher is appointed by the management of a school or a college to teach the lessons that form part of the syllabus for the students of a particular class.

Miss Ella Robinson was one of York’s Finest Educators. She was born here on January 25, 1868, the daughter of William T & Eliza H. Robinson 457 Salem Avenue in York. She graduated from William Penn High School June of 1886 when it was still on Philadelphia Street right across from what is now the White Rose Restaurant. She was the first Negro, as we were called during that period, to graduate from York High. She began teaching that year in September at the colored school located in the A.M.E. Zion church on East King Street. When the new Smallwood School was built she became one of the first teachers there teaching first, second and third grades. For many years she was principal of the Smallwood School and for the last ten years of service she was instructor of what was called the opportunity room which was housed in the original Smallwood building. She remained there until the end of her teaching career. She was credited with 48 years of continuous teaching by the Employees Retirement Board in Harrisburg, Pa.  She did postgraduate work for several summers at the University of Pennsylvania. She was a life-long member of A.M.E. Zion church and served as Superintendent of the Sunday School there for 18 years. She was also a graduate of the Interdenominational School of Religious Education. She was survived by two sisters; Mrs. Julia R. Prince and Miss Mary E. Robinson, also a school teacher. Miss Robinson died in 1935 and is buried in the Lebanon Cemetery.


Author: jkirk

Founder and Chief Researcher for the York African American Historical Preservation Society