The school opened on November 10, 1949.
The school was named in honor of the late W.H. Isely, first dean of Fairmount College and a Wichita leader.
William Henry Isely was born in St. Joseph, Missouri on August 8, 1865. His parents, Christian H. Isely and Elise Dubach Isely migrated to Fairview, Kansas to start farming.
Isely went to Ottawa University and then graduated with a master’s in history and economics from Harvard.
Henry married Frances in 1893.
They moved to Wichita in 1894. Isely taught history, economics, and science at the Fairmount Institute, which became Fairmount college in 1895. As a dean, he’s credited with raising money to buy additional buildings and add more faculty members.
He also played several important roles in the community, serving as a charter member and director of Wichita’s Chamber of Commerce and as a city council member.
Isely died of appendicitis on August 14, 1907, at the age of 42. Frances lived another 33 years until her death in 1940. She was 70. They are interred at Maple Grove Cemetery.
Isely School was the 38th grade school in 1962, only five Wichita schools, including Isely, had full sized libraries, the rest were just small room collections.
The school was closed in 1971 for integration purposes.
Isely was reopened as an integrated school serving pupils with exceptional abilities in 1973. The students were selected for participation by school principals and staff. A screening committee made the final decision.
My best friend in elementary school, Scott Hartmann, left Chisholm to attend Isely. He loved it there.
In 1988 Isely’s name was changed from Isely Alternative School to Isely Enrichment Magnet School.
During a 1996 meeting, the BOE closed Isely again and the students were moved to Mueller Elementary.
In 1997, the Board re-opened the Isely building calling it the Isely Edison Academy.
In 2002, the Edison program was dropped, and Isely became a traditional Magnet School.
Check out Wichita’s other schools.