Rosa Phillips Stonestreet

Born: February 18, 1859

Died: April 7, 1936

Rosa Phillips Stonestreet began teaching school after the death of her husband when she was thirty years old. Eight years later, in 1897, the City and County Executive Committee nominated her for County School Superintendent. The newspaper announcement provided more information about her male relations and family connections then it did about her credentials. Social standing mattered, especially for elections.("Miss Simcoe") In the November election she took 56% of the votes, handily beating both her male opponents.("This Lady") She was the first, and only, woman elected to be County School Superintendent for Jefferson County. This was more than twenty years before women would be given the right to vote in all elections, although unmarried women who owned taxable property were allowed to vote on issues concerning school bonds and trustees.("Women's")

During her twelve year tenure Stonestreet addressed the financial situation of the school system and pushed for the dismantling of the dysfunctional trustee system. Within months of taking office she sued the trustee of District 21 for "obtaining money by false pretenses."("Trustee") The trustee had taken a check for school house repairs for his own use. She also disciplined teachers and sued trustees who padded the census lists of their schools in order to receive more money.(Record) In a 1901 report to the Kentucky Department of Public Instruction, Stonestreet wrote,

On entering upon my official work in 1898, I found almost every district in the county burdened with a large debt and accumulated interest for four or five years. I have been untiring in my efforts to liquidate these obligations, and in many instances have succeeded.

I will not mention the dissatisfaction and confusion caused by the present trustee system, for I feel convinced that the Legislature can and will make many changes in the law governing our district trustees.(Bienneial 1901)

A few years later she made her point stronger, "I have had much trouble with incompetent trustees, and I am thoroughly satisfied that the present trustee system is a perfect farce, and that it should be abolished."(Biennial 1907) Stonestreet campaigned to have the trustees replaced by professional educators. She got her wish. At a Jefferson County School Board meeting in September 1908, the trustee system was abolished.(Doyle 1975) She continued to hold the position of superintendent until 1910.


"Biennial Report of the State of Kentucky Department of Public Instruction." December 14, 1907. In Stonestreet Elementary School box 45868, Jefferson County Public Schools Archives.
"Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky for the Two Years Beginning July 1, 1899, and Ending June 30, 1901." In Stonestreet Elementary School box 45868, Jefferson County Public Schools Archives.
Chaplin, Steve. "Name Change Elementary, Stonestreet Says." Courier - Journal, September 28, 1994, Neighborhoods, 1.
"Dedication of Historical Marker for Rosa Phillips Stonestreet." May 22, 2006. In Stonestreet Elementary School folder, Jefferson County Public Schools Archives.
Doyle, Marie T. "The Public School Merger Issue in Jefferson County, Kentucky." Doctorate of Education, University of Kentucky, 1975.
Fuller, Paul E. "Women's Suffrage." In Newsletter Louisville Historical League, Jefferson County Public Schools Archives, Stonestreet binder.
"Kentucky's Women County School Superintendents." Courier - Journal, April 30, 1905, E5.
Klusmeier, Mary Martin. "The Growth and Development of the Prestonia School and Community, Jefferson County, Kentucky." Master of Arts, University of Louisville, 1951.
Lezek, Catherine. "Letter to Shirley Botkins." January 16, 2001. Stonestreet Elementary School Box 45868. Jefferson County Public Schools Archives.
"Miss Simcoe Withdraws." Courier - Journal, July 17, 1897.
"Mrs. Rosa A. Stonestreet." Courier - Journal, April 8, 1936, 18.
"Mrs. Stonestreet Succeeds Mrs. Simcoe for County School Superintendent." Courier - Journal (Louisville, Ky. ), July 17, 1897.
"Record Book Jefferson County Schools." In Stonestreet Elementary School folder. Jefferson County Public Schools Archives.
Shafer, Sheldon S. "9 Women Inducted into New Hall of Fame." Courier - Journal, March 9, 1999, B, 3.
"This Lady Is a Winner." Courier - Journal, November 3, 1897, 2.
"Trustee Weber Is Indicted." March 19, 1898. In Louisville Commercial, Jefferson County Public Schools Archives, Stonestreet binder, Jefferson County Public Schools Archives.
"Wants to Manage the Schools." Courier - Journal (Louisville, Ky. ), July 18, 1897.