A gathering at the offices of the Culver City Unified School District looked to be a reunion of former school board members – and it was – but with a distinct goal; dedicating the board room to the memory of former board member and acclaimed community activist Madeline Ehrlich. On Monday, March 3, at 4 pm, School Superintendent Leslie Lockhart welcomed the crowd into the newly re-christened board room, complete with the trays of baked goods that no Ehrlich gathering was ever without.
“I did not know Madeline well, but I couldn’t help but know how important she was to the Culver City schools over her many years of leadership and activism, in particular her passion for language immersion,” offered Lockhart.
Current School Board President Summer McBride said “When I started on the school board, I only knew a bit about her, but she was very welcoming and supportive towards me, offering advice and insights that I still value. I have to say , I think I’m glad I didn’t know more about her or I might have been too intimidated to really take it all in.”
Many of those who gathered for the dedication reception had long histories and very dear memories of Madeline, in her roles as a school board member and as a leader for language immersion. Her heroic efforts to create and sustain El Marino as a language academy changed the district in ways that are still expanding and resonating.
It was more than language learning; former School Board President Scott Zeidman recalled “When we were trying to get the parcel tax – Measure EE – on the ballot, we asked Madeline if she could help – well, we ended up with the most dedicated, educated volunteer you could even dream of, putting in more than 40 hours a week, and bringing in her own group of volunteers. We could not have done it without her, she was just amazing.”
As for the plaque, it reads “The Culver City Unified School District Board Room is dedicated to the memory of Madeline Erhlich dedicated community member, trailblazer for bilingual learning, an advocate for the students of our school district and CCUSD board trustee from 1991 to 1995.”
There’s more than a plaque on the wall; known for her fabric artistry, there is a tapestry of sunflowers with a ‘Culver blue’ background that now graces the board room as well, matching the new carpet and chairs. Madeline would have approved.
Photo caption – former and current school board members ( from left to right) Julie Lugo Cerrs, Summer McBride, Jessica Beagle-roos, Scott Zeidman, Kathy Paspalis, Anne Allaire, Barbara Honig, Bob Knopf and Stephen Schwartz. Sunflowers by Madeline Ehrlich to the right.