Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

065_Woodlawn and Wright Schools


065_Woodlawn and Wright 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.

File Name



Windsor Woodlawn Wright Mr. Merrill and 2 students
In September, 1956, four classes were moved to the Pilgrim Church basement
which the Board of Education had remodeled for school purposes. In
the meantime blueprints for an even larger addition than originally planned
were made and in November, 1956, the contracts were av/arded. During all
of 1957, pupils, teachers, and parents watched the progress of the addition.
In September, 1957, the increased enrollment and the shortage of classroom
space brought about double sessions for a number of classes. This,
along with the continued use of the church basement facilities, meant more
adjustments for Woodlawn youngsters, teachers, and parents. In November,
1957, the completion of four rooms permitted all pupils to attend on a
full-time schedule.
On January 27, 1958, the entire building was occupied and classes were
moved from the Pilgrim Church basement. For the first time since 1956
all the pupils at Woodlawn School were under one roof.
In the spring of 1958 the parking west of Woodlawn was converted to
a playground area. A lot was purchased on the south side of Madison, and
a small house was torn down. This space became the parking lot for Woodlawn
faculty and parents. In October, 1958, a small piece of ground was
acquired and added to the parking site. An addition consisting of a new
music room, library, teachers room and kitchen was completed in February,
Woodlawn school has a six unit program, Plan A, for grades 4, 5, and 6.
They participate in the voluntary transfer program as the receiving school for
youngsters bused there from the innercity. They have classes for the educable
mentally retarded as well as a resource teacher in learning disabilities. They
have an active career education program.
Principals who have served at Woodlawn include:
1953 - 1959 Robert Denny
1960 (6 months) Melvin Rexroat
1960 - 1964 Jack Jones
1964 - 1965 Richard Rose
1965 - 1972 Florence Murphy
1972 - Olive Devine
Principals who have serve at Wright include-
1961 - 1965 James Daugherty
1965 - 1972 Mildred Kaisand
1972 - Barbara Sloan
5001 S.W. 14th St.
Grades K-6
Site—11.2 acres
Wright School was opened in the fall of 1961 having been built at a
cost of $477,000. The formal dedication was held on Sunday, December
17, 1961, with about 500 persons present.
Guests of honor included Mrs. Myra Wright, 91, widow of Craig T.
Wright for whom the school was named. Dr. Thomas Wright of Newton,
son of Mr. and Mrs. Craig Wright, was also present. Assistant Superintendent
W. C. Findley, reviewed Craig Wright's years of service to the schools
of Des Moines.
Mr. Craig Wright was a native of Des Moines and was a well known
lawyer here until his death in 1947. He served on the Des Moines School
Board for fifteen years, from 1924-1939.
Wright School was built close to Hoak School since the latter building
could not be expanded. Originally Hoak was to have ben a large building
but a change in flight patterns at the airport created a restriction on enlarging
the present facilities. Thus Hoak upper grade pupils finish at
Wright before going to junior high school. Both Hoak and Wright operate
as a single school unit under the supervision of a single principal.
Wright School is declining in student population in the mid-1970s.
However, the self-contained K-4 classes and departmentalized classes in
grades 5-6 continue to provide a framework for excellence in skill building.
Special emphasis is placed upon the development of organizational skills, as
well as the recognition of self worth and the worth of other. Students with
learning disabilities have been provided with meaningful help through a
resource teacher.
Career education has created a focus for relevant activities. Classes have
been offered to both students and adults through Community Education, and
recreational periods were established for the community through the Des