Rea Woodman School opened in January of 1956. It was only one of four schools at the time with a library. It sat next to Truesdell Middle School. By 1960, the school’s enrollment grew to the point a new school was built across the street. The original Woodman was folded into Truesdell.
The new Woodman opened in September 1962. It was the largest elementary school in Kansas. It featured a new design, with a multi-purpose room in the center of the school with classrooms surrounding it. The high ceiling with skylights caused a hump in the center of the roof. The multi-purpose room was used as a gym, play area and lunch room.
The school was named in honor and in memory of pioneer citizen, Rea Woodman.
Hannah Rea Woodman was born February 10, 1870 in Jacksonville, Illinois. Her father, William Clayton Woodman moved the family to Wichita. Their family home served as one of the first hotels in the city. The family lived in the Lakeside Mansion they built in 1874. It incorporated Wichita’s first homestead, the Munger House.
Interesting side note: When she was three, Hannah was captured by the Arapaho tribe. Lawman William “Buffalo Bill” Mathewson helped get her home.
Woodman attended Garfield University but got her bachelor’s degree from Drake University. She received her master’s degree from the University of Kansas.
Over the years she taught English and English Literature at a number of schools while writing books, poems and plays. Many of her manuscripts can be found in the Kansas Historical Society’s collection.
Some of her titles included; “The Heart and the Crown,” “In Memoriam, the Titanic Disaster,” “She Organized a Club: A Farce in Two Acts and a Prologue,” “Galliger, a High School Comedy in Three Acts,” “Captain Lincoln’s Way: An Indian Play for Boys” and “Tumbleweed.”
I found a review of Tumbleweed in The Graduate Magazine of the University of Kansas. Vol 8, November 1909 Number 2
“Miss. Woodman shows considerable skill in the manipulation of poetical phrases. Some of her phrases are excellently conceived. She handles meter well and she shows that she knows the language of poetry.”
She returned to Wichita in 1927, where she continued to teach and to write.
Woodman died in Wichita on May 12, 1951, at the age of 81. She is buried at Maple Grove Cemetery.
In September 1994, the Board of Education traded a part of the school grounds with the city of Wichita. They city built a fire station on the corner, in return the school received a 4 thousand plus square foot concrete basketball and playground pad.
Check out Wichita’s other schools.