School History – Gloria Willis Middle School


Gloria Willis was built in 2018-2019 to replace both Coronado Middle School and West Middle School. Here are the district histories of both of those campuses.

About Gloria Willis

Gloria WIllis portraitAlways a leader who put children first, Mrs. Willis began working in Kansas City, Kansas in 1953, serving as a teacher, central office consultant, principal, and finally as a board member. She oversaw and participated in the transition of the district from a segregated system in 1953, to one that today serves a multicultural population from across the globe.

Born in Texas, Mrs. Willis graduated from Tillotson College in 1952, and came up to Kansas City, Kansas to teach. She taught at five different elementary schools in the district over 18 years, before becoming a central office consultant. After a year as principal at Grant Elementary, she moved over to Quindaro Elementary, where she was principal for 13 years.  She retired from the district in 1994, and the next year joined the Board of Education.

A strong advocate for children, Mrs. Willis always placed the needs of children first in her work with the Board and the district administration. She also strongly believed in the important role that parents play in their child’s education, and frequently raised the question during meetings: “Have we reached out to the parents? What do they think?”

In addition to her education service, Mrs. Will was a member for 63 years at Trinity African-American Episcopal Church, where she served on the Board of Trustees, the Stewardess Board and the Women’s Missionary Society. She also volunteered and served on the board of many community organizations, including City Vision Ministries, Shepherd’s Center, Wyandotte Center and the Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Willis passed away in December of 2016.

Coronado Middle School

Location:  1735 N 64 Terrace

Named for (assumed) Francisco Vázquez de Coronado

Other Names:  Coronado Junior High School


1960 – Construction of Coronado Jr High School by Washington District.  “Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1964-86,” by O. L. Plucker, Superintendent Emeritus, June, 1987

1961 – First occupied in march.

1967 – January.  Part of USD 201 attached to Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (USD 500).

1967-68 – Boundary line change – portion of attendance area assigned to West Middle School.

1968 – Enrollment more than 1320 – almost double normal capacity.  Addition to building – combination study hall/cafeteria/general purpose room built to avoid putting school on split sessions.

1970 – Ninth grade assigned to Washington High School because of overcrowding.  Washington on split sessions.

1971 – New kitchen built in 1968 dining area.  Old kitchen remodeled to industrial arts use.  Schools in KCKs in Years of Change 1962-1986, Dr. Oren L. Plucker, 1986

1973 – Eisenhower Junior High School opened.  New boundaries established.  Ninth grade returned to Coronado.  Enrollment at 882.  Washington back to regular day.

1977 – In early 1977, the district received a decision from the United States District Court which did not require major and

mandatory relocation of students, but did require the desegregation of Northeast Junior and Sumner High Schools.  That decision had been appealed to the Tenth Circuit of the Federal Courts by the Department of Justice in the hope of securing a ruling to require a “racial balance” in all schools.  Such a decision would have required the mandatory relocation of thousands of students by a system of cross-districting busing.  At this point, only voluntary racial balance transfers were required at the elementary school level.  Northeast Junior High was to be closed and its students and teachers reassigned to other schools.  Sumner was to be converted to an academic magnet school in 1978.  A committee of parents had spent the previous four months working through meetings to assure the smooth integration of pupils from Northeast Junior into Central, Rosedale, Argentine, Arrowhead and Eisenhower.  Sumner Academy of Arts and Science was scheduled to open in September, 1978, as part of the desegregation plan.  “Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1964-86,” by O. L. Plucker, Superintendent Emeritus, June, 1987 (pg. 50-52)

1982 – Ninth grade assigned to Washington High School.  All junior highs now to be middle schools serving grades 6-8.

1994 – Summer.  Heating and cooling improvements to be made to school.  Air conditioning to be added.

2001 – Voters approved a proposed $120 million bond issue at the Municipal Election Tuesday (April 3, 2001) to air-condition schools, improve technology, and make other upgrades to schools and public libraries. Coronado was part of Phase III, which was completed in the summer of 2003.

West Middle School

Location:  2600 North 44 Street

Other Names:  West Junior High School

In 1953, 20 acres were purchased for the site at 43rd and Georgia.

1956: The building was erected with 26 rooms. The building had 23 teachers. Joseph Radotinsky was the architect.  Assume named because location was at the west end of the city.

The first principal of West Middle School was Lawson M. Roberts who also served as principal of West Elementary before the name was changed to William Allen White. West Elementary School (now named William Allen White Elementary School) was included in the plans and built physically next door to West Middle.

In October of that year, the PTA at West was organized and Mrs. Peter Carr was president. An open house was held on November 15.

1959: Addition to the West complex, and the library wing were erected.

2002:  Voters approved a proposed $120 million bond issue at the Municipal Election Tuesday (April 3, 2001) to air-condition schools, improve technology, and make other upgrades to schools and public libraries. West was part of Phase II, which was completed in the summer of 2002.

2004: Received a “Great IDEAS” grant (funded/sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Fund) for the 2004-05 school year, which encourages teachers in SLC’s (Small Learning Communities) to work together to develop innovative programs and projects to improve student learning.  Received $5,000.


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