About DuFief

Opening in 1975, DuFief Elementary School has a dedicated staff of administrators, teachers, specialists and instructional assistants educating more than 480 students in Pre-Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. DuFief also hosts a Pre-K language class and a K-5 Learning Center program.

DuFief is part of the Wootton cluster in Montgomery County Public Schools. Our students attend Frost Middle School for grades 6-8, and then go to Wootton High School for grades 9-12.

As a Character Counts! School, DuFief is committed to its motto: Learning to Live, Living to Learn. Working in teams, the teaching staff stresses the education of the whole child: academic, social, and aesthetic. Relating classroom learning to real-life situations, encouraging extensions and enrichment in programs, nurturing character development and integrity, and fostering excitement for learning are the main focuses of education at DuFief.

An active and supportive PTA works to enrich the school's learning environment. Cultural Arts programs, special events and classroom volunteers are part of an integrated curriculum. Volunteers assist teaching staff through a variety of tasks and projects. The PTA also directs an award-winning Community Service program.

Mission Statement

The mission of the staff, students and parents of DuFief Elementary School is to stimulate and challenge all students to develop their academic, social and emotional potential. We will achieve this by providing a safe and nurturing environment that promotes open communication and collaboration. We will provide effective instruction for all students to instill a sense of responsibility and to become lifelong learners. Success will be measured by setting goals, collecting data and evaluating progress.

The History of DuFief

The nearly 10 acres of land for DuFief Elementary School was donated in November, 1971. The original bid name for the school was "Avalon." Construction began in September, 1974 and the 59,013 square foot building was completed in August, 1975 at a cost of $2,155,463.72. The original building was designed to have 23 open classrooms arranged around two open air atriums.

During construction, the Board of Education voted to change the name of the school name from "Avalon," to that of the surrounding community, "DuFief." George Goldsmith was introduced as the first principal of DuFief ES. When DuFief's doors opened on September 2, 1975, about 325 students entered into the "newest and best equipped school in the County." Today, about 430 students attend the school.

Lord DuFief

One could imagine this French nobleman stepping out of a Renoir canvas. He would be dressed in the fashion of the day wearing a mustache or beard, a stovepipe hat worn jauntily above the high collar. He was a man of confidence in the society of Brittany, a civic father in the port city of Nantes, where the Loire empties into the Bay of Biscay 250 miles southwest of Paris.

Nicholas Henri Gouin, Lord du Fief, was a Royalist and, with his wife, Victoire Aimee Libault Gouin du Fief, would remain a Royalist beyond the French Revolution. In 1798, Victoire would lead a rebellion of Royalists against the new order. For this she would become the first and only woman to be awarded the Ribbon of the Order of St. Louis by His Majesty Louis XVIII, the younger brother of Louis XVI, husband to the extravagant Marie Antoinette, and the Monarch who saw France become a Republic.

The du Fief (du, meaning "of," fief, according to Webster's, "the right to own land under the feudal system," hence "fiefdom") family must have found life uncomfortable supporting, as they did, a losing cause. Thus they set out for America, apparently with an extended family which included their son, Cherubim, born in Nantes in 1786. Little is know of Cherubim's life, although it would appear from material gathered by the Montgomery County Historical Society, that his father, Nicholas did quite well in America.

He developed a system of French language instruction documented in a text, "Nature Displayed in Her Mode of Teaching Language to Man," a French-English dictionary, and a dictionary of pronunciation. During this time, the du Fiefs settled in Georgetown (although they may have spent some time in New Orleans), and on June 14, 1817, Cherubim's son, John Lawrence, was born.

John Lawrence DuFief

John Lawrence DuFief, (apparently the spelling had become thus at some point) became a builder. He also dabbled in architecture, designing houses for friends. In about 1850, he had a windfall. A rich aunt, Mary DuFief Fowler, of New Orleans, died leaving him enough money for him to buy property above Turkey Foot Road and below what is now Route 28. John Lawrence DuFief, who had married Catherine Amelia Talbot, of Prince George's County in 1847, moved to his newly purchased farm with his wife and two children in 1853.

DuFief designed and built a sparkling new home, Millwood which stood until 1941. Within 10 years he owned more than 1,100 acres in this area, making him one of the largest land owners in the county. (Land in this area at that time probably ranged between $5 and $15 an acre. Incidentally, the name of his primary holding here was "Mt. Pleasant." Others were "Treble Trouble," "James," "Mt. Prospect," "Piney Grove," and "Hartley Hall.") There was also a mill. In the Montgomery Sentinel" of January 5, 1866, DuFief said the mill was "50 feet by 60 feet, four stories high, slate roof...capable of manufacturing from 10,000-12,000 barrels of flour annually." Millwood was a "3-story brick mansion, 30 by 36, containing nine rooms and cellar, with verandah, eight feet wide round the entire house." The property boasted two dairies, an ice house, meat house, workshop, two barns, three tenant houses and a "fine thrifty young orchard of peaches and apples..."

The Slave Census of 1860 recorded that DuFief had 10 adult and 9 child slaves on his property and he was at the forefront of efforts to sustain the status quo. During the Civil War, DuFief initially pledged his allegiance to the South in support of his Constitutional rights. A later abstract states that DuFief supported the North, opposing the secession of the southern States.

John Lawrence DuFief had eight children. After selling some of his land in 1866, DuFief apparently stayed in the area. Upon his death on March 26, 1877, services were held at St. Rose's Catholic Church in Rockville. His body was interred in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown.

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