Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

063_Willard and Windsor Schools


063_Willard and Windsor Schools


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.

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Frances Willard Elementary School. The Willard building continued as a kindergarten-8 building in the Des Moines schools until a disastrous fire on Friday, December 14, 1923. SOME WILLARD SCHOOL HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS As one browses through the early Willard P.T. A. records, these historical facts are revealed. The school's name was changed from Grant Park to Willard to honor Frances Willard who was a Temperance Union lady of Des Moines. The Temperance ladies presented a drinking fountain in 1909 to Willard School. This was the first indoor fountain in the school and above it was a picture of Miss Willard. Fof mer Mayor George Whitmer recalled the first day that this particular fountain was used. He told how the pupils were placed in straight lines to take turns at drinking from the fountain and they were instructed that they must keep their hands behind their backs as a more responsible adult turned the water off and on. Mr. Willie Tiley, a former Willard student recollected this amusing incident which had many students laughing as they observed Miss Troutner, the first principal of Willard School, running her car into a telephone pole upon which sat a lineman busy at work. In her attempt to stop her vehicle, she hit the pole several times. Mr. Tiley recalled some of the early discipline practices. It seems that Miss Troutner would go to a ditch south of the school and cut willow switches to be used for disciplining. Another form of discipline she employed for the older boys, Willard went through eight grade at the time, was forcing them to dress as girls for the school day. Willie Tiley also described the public transportation of many Willard students in 1921 and the following years. The Des Moines School System hired a driver and his green wagon covered by a beautiful white canvas, similar in appearance to a Connestoga Wagon, to transport the students to and from school daily. In the mid 1970's Willard School's student population remains fairly constant and continues to be one of the larger elementary schools in Des Moines. This school is an I. G. E. school meaning it employs the Individually Guided Education multi-unit approach to instruction. This is rather unique considering the fact that Willard is an older building and was not remodeled when the I. G. E. concept was adopted. Career Education is another important factor in the school's curriculum. The Title 1 reading program is proving a valuable asset. A Learning Disabilities Resource Teacher also renders an important service. The Willard Tiniklers, fifth and sixth graders, have made Willard School well known throughout the state of Iowa as well as in adjoining states. Their performances at the Iowa State Girls' Basketball Tournament have become a yearly event and are often carried on live television. This tinikling group has also performed at the Iowa State Fair, and also, for the pleasure of many citizens of Des Moines retirement and nursing homes. Many educators from other school systems have also visited Willard to observe these performers in action. In May, 1970, a track and field event was begun which has become an annual affair. This event is known as the Chet Butler Relays named in memory of Chet Butler, a former Willard custodian, who passed away of cancer. In 1975, Willard School commemorated its 50th anniversary of the present building. The Willard P. T. A. also proudly observed its 50th anniversary as it had been in existence since 1925. A very extensive program was presented and many former students were in attendance who recalled their happy childhood days within Willard's walls. Dr. Wilbur Miller, president of Drake University, George Whitmer, former Des Moines mayor, and Robert Wright, a Des Moines attorney, were among the former students who were present for this memorable occasion. Principals who have been at Willard School are: 1915 - 1940 Grace Troutner 1940 - 1957 Doris Morgan 1957 - 1965 Kenneth Smith 1965 - 1972 Kenneth Rouse 1972 - Bernard Miller WINDSOR SCHOOL 58th and University Grades K-6 Dates of construction—1918 One-eighth 1949 One-half 1954 Three-eighths Site—4.2 acres This building was named for the Windsor family who donated the land in memory of their son. Henry Clay Windsor settled near the present Windsor School in 1840. The original Windsor building in 1918 was a two- room brick structure that housed 22 pupils in the primary grades. The upper grade youngsters attended Perkins. The teacher had to walk from the end of the street car line on 49th street and University. The nurse came about once a month, but the first one gave up because she did not wish to walk from 49th to 58th street particularly since it was hilly. Mr. Jordan, the first principal had nine small out-lying schools. This kept him busy because transportation was slow and in some places non-existent. When the first Armistice report was announced in November, 1918, schools were closed for the rest of the day—but not Windsor. It had no telephone and thus did not hear the news. Water was provided by a well and the pump was locked or the handle removed at night to prevent the well from being pumped dry before the pupils arrived the next day.