The northeast corner of West 94th Street and Amsterdam Avenue will soon honor former River Park Nursery School teacher and director, Didi (Desiree) Ford, who worked at the institution from 1969 until her retirement in 2012. Community Board 7 passed the resolution for the secondary street renaming during Monday’s full board meeting, with 30 votes in favor, none opposed, and two abstentions.
“So, every now and then we get an application for a secondary street naming. Normally it’s for amazing West Siders and this is absolutely no exception, Desiree Ford, known as Didi Ford to all her friends and students…” remarked CB7 member Andrew Albert during the resolution’s introduction. “She loved the school and its students so much. She started as an assistant teacher, she progressed to a master teacher and then director of the school. She was River Park Nursery School.”
Patch reported that “Ford was the first black teacher at the school and its first Black director.” Following her retirement in 2012, Ford continued to volunteer at River Park Nursery School until the pandemic made it too dangerous. She passed away in July 2022. It was said that Ford advocated for inclusiveness among her students while infusing her love of music into their lives.
Barbara Litt, whose two daughters both had Ford as a teacher, spoke on her behalf at the meeting. “I just want to say that today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. And you have no idea how much those of us who knew Didi, had children that went to the school, knew how much she cared about kids. So, it seems especially appropriate to me that this would come up for a final vote today on Teacher Appreciation Day, on behalf of all the teachers who are out there participating, listening on the board, whatever. Thank you. Thank you for giving our kids such great educations.”
As of writing, no official date has been set for the street naming.
Oh, I’m so happy to hear this news! Didi was such a progressive and positive influence for my pre-schooler and our family. Nathan’s stellar care and guidance under Didi and the amazing staff at Riverpark Nursery was truly a gift. I’m so grateful to have known Desiree Ford.