James McGee Elementary School opened its doors in 1981 in a corner of Pasco that was, at the time, largely undeveloped. While growing up, former McGee Principal Robin Hay remembers going horseback riding on the land where the school now sits.
The school is named after James W. McGee, an educator from North Dakota who started teaching at Captain Gray Elementary School in 1958. He received a Master’s in Elementary Education from EWU in 1967 and continued his career teaching 6th grade classes in Pasco for a total of 21 years. During his first year he organized and directed a boys choir. In the following years he developed a program of vocal music at the elementary level that included the Captain Gray Choralaires. McGee donated much of his time and energy to guiding his students. His enthusiasm for teaching inspired his students to reach their full potential. Former students have given McGee the best compliment of all, “Mr. McGee was one of the best teachers I ever had!”
Perhaps one of the most significant impacts on McGee was the opening of Robinson Elementary in 2005. Half of McGee’s students who were bused from east Pasco were then able to attend their new neighborhood school, reducing and changing McGee’s student population. Since then, McGee Elementary School, which was built to house 500 students, had grown to more than 980 students. With the opening of Franklin STEM Elementary School, overcrowding is expected to ease up somewhat.
McGee Elementary School celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2011. As part of the celebration, the school buried a time capsule. This is the same time capsule that was dug up in honor of the school’s 25th anniversary and had been buried by the school’s inaugural class of 1981. Some of the 1981 students returned in 2006 to reflect on their buried papers and items. Some of the 1981 materials were included with items from current students and the time capsule was buried last fall for future students to unearth.
A unique feature of McGee Elementary are the Mad Mallets, a marimba troop of musicians. The Mad Mallets have played at retirement homes, the Richland Community Center, and at District events. Be sure to keep an eye out for future Mad Mallet performances, under the direction of our new McGee music teacher Tyler Kruse.
McGee Elementary has had the honor of being recognized for five years as a “School of Distinction” by the Center for Educational Effectiveness for being among the top 5% of highest improving schools in the state.
James McGee Elementary was recently honored with the State of Washington’s highest honor for our continued growth in math, The Washington Achievement Award. This award is based on both state and national criteria.
Previous McGee Principals include Robin Hay, Kathy Hayden, Suzanne Feeney, Terry Atwood, Wes Hurst and Tom Brandon. Past Vice Principals include Lana Taylor-Siemon, Kathy Brown, Letty Morrissette and Lannie Smith.