Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

041_Jefferson School


041_Jefferson School


This is a page from the collection "Bicentennial Reflections: History of Des Moines Public Schools, 1876-1976" by Dr. Robert R. Denny, published by the Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa in 1976.

Digital Reproduction Information

JPEG scanned at 600 dpi resolution on an Epson Expression 10000XL Scanner

File Name



Jefferson (Photograph) King (Photograph) The 75th Unit of the Parent-Teacher Association was organized at Jackson Elementary School on October 2, 1962, with Mrs. Ben Bingaman as the first president. The PTA membership totaled 69 parents, teachers, and friends the first year. In 1972 an addition of ten classrooms, gym and media center were added to the primary wing of the Jackson building. The cost was $525,333.00. The addition was far different than the one visualized when the building was first opened in 1962. The citizens and teacher committees that helped plan the new addition at Jackson opted for the open-classroom concept. Thus the teaching stations that were added at Jackson essentially revolve about a centralized media center for all of the upper grade rooms to utilize. Fully carpeted and air conditioned as are all of the open-space classroom additions of the 1970s, it is indeed a functional educational unit. The school uses the IGE—Individualized Guided Education program that most of the other open- space schools have. In looking towards the later 1970s it would seem that the new sewers in the southeast area may open up new housing additions that could tax the facilities at Jackson. Principals of Jackson School include: 1962 (6 months) Paul Pace 1962 - 1965 Lorena Riebhoff 1968 - Marion Pritchard 1965 - 1968 Joan Sherman 1968 - Marion Pritchard JEFFERSON SCHOOL 2425 Watrous Grades K-6 Dates of construction—1920 Site—2.7 acres The general consolidation of schools in and around Des Moines that took place in 1907 also included the Oak Grove district. This involved the present Jefferson School as well as some land that was outside the city. The present brick school at SW 30th and Park Avenue was built in 1920. It replaced a three room structure of wood and brick which served the typically rural community for many years prior to that time. It enrolled grades kindergarten through eighth. Logan (Photograph) Longfellow (Photgraph) For many years after the "new" building was built, the pupils walked the dirt roads that served the neighborhood. As more houses were built and improved roads were constructed there became traffic hazards. Jefferson School continued to provide a program for grades K-8 until enrollment pressure made it necessary to transfer the seventh and eighth grades to Lincoln in the late 1940's. Some fifth graders and all the sixth grade pupils are taken by bus to Wright School. Jefferson School was named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson one of the intellectual giants of our founding era. A new Jefferson elementary building was planned for the site at 2425 Watrous Avenue. The construction contracts totaled $968,491.00. With its opening in September, 1972, the old Jefferson School at S.W. 30th and Park Avenue was closed and the windows boarded up. The new structure was planned according to the open-space concept, utilizing several levels since it was built into the side of the hill. Ample school grounds have provided a setting for a natural forest area with a wide variety of trees, plants and shrubs being planted as an outdoor ecology-type classroom. The upper elementary grades from Jefferson who formerly attended Brody Junior High School since the time when Brody opened now are able to be housed in the new Jefferson School. The building utilized the IGE multi-unit program. Continued expansion of new housing now only in the Camelot area but in the area around S.W. 42nd and Park Avenue indicate that enrollments will be climbing in the years ahead. Principals of Jefferson School include: 1909 - 1910 Mr. Stone 1910 - 1918 J. W. Atchley 1918 - 1937 W. Lee Jordan 1937 - 1939 C. I. Pease 1939 - 1944 Murray Work 1944 - 1952 Nelle Cunningham 1952 - 1957 Mildred Shay 1957 - 1963 Ruth Pritchard 1963 - 1966 Robert Langerak 1966 - 1968 Joan Sherman 1968 - 1971 Harry Elder 1971 Louise Silver