Who Was W.B. Patterson?

Original Patterson SchoolWalter B. Patterson was born in Manchester, N.Y.  in the 1870s.

Mr. Patterson obtained his secondary education in private academies, one of them being the Emerson Institute. Later he pursued courses at Dartmouth College, where he received his A.B. Degree and the Phi Beta Kappa distinction. During his college tenure Mr. Patterson helped pay his way through school by filling a temporary assignment in the Bureau of Education. Several years later he studied law, and besides his A.M. Degree, he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Law at George Washington University.


  • July of 1883:    Mr. Patterson’s career began when he was appointed to an eighth grade teaching position.
  • September 1883:  Principal of the Force School
  • September 1892:   Principal of the Wallach School, which in those days had a higher salary rating than the principal of the Force School.
  • 1907:  Mr. Patterson was elevated to supervising principal in charge of special schools and activities.    His greatest contribution to the improvement of the school system was the development of activities for physically and mentally handicapped children.  He developed ungraded classes, a health school, classes for children having speech defects and classes for crippled children.  It was also within Mr. Patterson’s province to have oversight of the education of blind and deaf and mute children.

His remaining thirty-seven years were spent as a supervising principal, involving heavy responsibilities in the supervision and administration of important activities of the school system.

The retirement of Mr. Walter B. Patterson, supervising principal of the Ninth Division, brings to a close forty-eighth years of meritorious service as an officer in the public schools of the District of Columbia.

Mr. Patterson’s work as a school officer has been characterized by a fine acumen, rare judgment, and marked professional ability in the handling of school challenges.

The original W. B. Patterson Elementary School opened April 9, 1945.