In 1944, May Butts needed a teacher for the students in her new school. She traveled with her daughter and two sons to Elliston to recruit Margaret (Billy) Northcrossto teach the first grade class. Butts promised Margaret that she would use the “Northcross” name to honor her commitment if she accepted the job.
Billy accepted the job and spent the next sixteen years as the first Headmaster of North Cross School, Salem until Emerson Johnson was hired in 1961 to lead the newly formed North Cross Country Day School. Billy continued as the Director of the Lower School until 1979. One of the trademarks of her 35 year career are the bells that she used to ring in the school year and that she carried around for discipline and emergencies. Her belief was that bells were a nice symbol of correction when compared to more active disciplinary measures. The bells reside on Dr. Proctor’s desk and continue to ring in the start of every school year.
Billy later married and changed her last name to Ellis. Along the way, she assembled an excellent faculty and staff that focused on shaping a curriculum offering the best early education possible. Among them were Louise Hoback, Dottie Stevens,Emily Moseley, Nelle Gardner, and Betsy Koontz. Her influence was profound and reflected in the decision to name the first building constructed on our current campus, the lower school building, Ellis Hall, in her honor.
She was a wonderful storyteller and displayed a flair for the dramatic. Students were spellbound by her stories, and she also dressed up as a witch each Halloween to lead the students in a parade down Main Street in Salem or across the Colonial Avenue campus. Later in her career, she would dress up for Field Day as Miss Kitty, from the popular television show Gunsmoke, or a geisha girl.
The Crossties Blog provides timely updates about activities from the campus of North Cross School.