Brooks Center for STEM and Arts Magnet Middle School opened in 1958, under the name Brooks Junior High School. The building was named for L.W. Brooks (Laverne Wright Brooks), who was a principal of three different Wichita high schools for over 25 years.
L.W. Brooks graduated from Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin. He began his career teaching in a one-room rural school. He eventually worked his way up to city superintendent.
He married Ethel M. Bates on June 9, 1907.
The couple moved with their three children to Wichita in 1919.
For 15 years, Dr. Brooks taught secondary education classes at the University of Kansas and the University of Southern California while still working for the Wichita Public Schools.
Dr. Brooks held a long list of positions including the president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals in 1925, president of the Kansas State Teachers Association in 1929. In 1944, he was elected the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He served two terms.
Throughout his career Dr. Brooks was an avid aviation supporter. He appointed the Kansas Commission on Aviation Education to create the ”Wings Over Kansas” program.
Dr. Brooks retired and he and Ethel moved to Los Angeles. He passed away on November 21, 1953. He was 77. Ethel lived for another 31 years, passing away in 1984 at the age of 97. They are both interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
According to “A History of Wichita Public School Buildings”, “The design of Brooks School was unique in that the natural topography was retained and used as an asset rather than a liability in the development…Color was used to the fullest advantage inside the building to provide a cheerful and inspiring atmosphere for the students and teachers. The architect gave a great deal of attention to creating a feeling and atmosphere in the building conducive to alertness and learning.”
Brooks became a magnet school in 1991, with a focus on science, technology, engineering, math and the arts. Jardine Magnet and Brooks are the only schools with a STEM lab.
Check out Wichita’s other schools.