Friday Field Trip: Bordewich Bray School

Brdewich 1Bordewich Bray School sits in the heart of historic Carson City, near the old St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church and the Brewery Arts Center. It’s the real school that the fictional Libby and Claire in Us, Now and Then attended in the 60s. Libby’s father, Mike McCormack taught fifth grade there. It is also where in 2000 the family discovers Mike, now suffering from Alzheimer’s, lost and frightened during a thunderstorm.

Today the name Bordewich Bray refers to a complex that honors two women who committed their lives to the education of Nevada’s children. It is administered by another dedicated (and fabulous!) woman, Lisa Barbee Hutchinson.


Mildred Bray School (the “blue school”) next door, which was named for Miss Bray in 1969 for her service in the field of education. In addition to education, she had varied interests including Democratic politics. Miss Bray served as State Superintendent of Schools from 1938-1950 and was the only woman to hold the position until Mary Peterson was appointed in 1995. Miss Bray is also the only person in Nevada history to be elected to three consecutive terms as State Superintendent.

Grace Bordewich was a born, bred, and educated Carson Citizen who, after graduating from UNR, became a highly regarded English teacher at Carson City High School. Miss Bordewich taught from 1933 until she retired in 1965. In her retirement, she became an active fundraiser for UNICEF. In 1974, the Ormsby County School District renamed the old high school building honor. And in 1989, Robert Laxalt, the internationally acclaimed author who was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, dedicated his eighth book “The Basque Hotel” to his former teacher, Grace Bordewich. He says this about her…

“It was Miss Bordewich who first taught me that teachers can be human … It did not come from the tedium of grammar, but from poetry and short stories, from the magic of writing. In those times, her eyes would brighten and her voice soften and a student would have to be dead not to be affected. The mark that a single teacher can make upon a student is a mark that lasts a lifetime. So it has been with me. She gave me the love of language.”

I hope that everyone has the opportunity to have such inspiring teachers and role models. I was blessed with many.

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