Seattle Public Schools, 1862-2000: Rogers Elementary School

  • Posted 9/11/2013
  • Essay 10581

This People's History of John Rogers Elementary School is taken from Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 by Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr. That book, published in 2002 by Seattle Public Schools, compiled profiles of all the public school buildings that had been used by the school district since its formation around 1862. The profiles from the book are being made available as People's Histories on courtesy of Seattle Public Schools. It should be noted that these essays are from 2000. Some of the buildings profiled are historic, some of recent vintage, and many no longer exist (new names and buildings not included in these profiles from 2000 have been added), but each plays or has played an important role in the education of Seattle's youth.

John Rogers Elementary School

The La Villa Station on the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway stood near (N)E 98th Street and 49th Avenue NE. It served as a rail connection for the La Villa Dairy. The first Maple Leaf School operated nearby from 1896 until just before 1910.

In 1938, the Boeing Airplane Company developed the Clipper Ship, otherwise known as the "flying boat." Two years later, Pan Am World Airways built a dock on Lake Washington at 90th and 51st NE from which it launched the first over-the-ocean service between Seattle, Juneau, and Fairbanks. After World War II, the area north of Sand Point became one of the city's newly developing suburbs.

Around 1950, residents of the area were eager for a public bathing beach on Lake Washington. The Seattle Parks Department selected property owned by an early resident, John G. Matthews, just north of the old Pan Am dock and, in 1951, condemned his horse pasture. The resulting Matthews Beach Park bears his name.

Matthews had opposed having his land taken for a park. For three years following condemnation, he was able to lease the pasture back for his horses because there were no funds for park development.

Matthews School opened in 1953 at (N)E 105th & 40th Avenue NE, the former site of the La Villa Dairy, which had later been a hog farm and a cornfield. Matthews was just five blocks from Jane Addams Junior High School. It was the second all-portable school installed by the Seattle School District in the newly annexed northeast Seattle area. The cluster of 10 portables, with eight used as classrooms for 260 students, was needed to relieve overcrowding at Maple Leaf School.

During its second year of operation, and after some local controversy, Matthews School was renamed the John Rogers School on June 1, 1954. John Rankin Rogers was an early governor of Washington (1895-1901) and authored legislation providing financial aid to schools, which in turn served as a foundation for the present public school system. In September 1954, Rogers became an independent school.

It soon became obvious that a larger, permanent building was needed for the area. On a site four blocks away, the district built a facility "designed for future expansion."

Enrollment continued to climb and, in 1960-61, reached 689, requiring the addition of five portable classrooms. In 1963-64 enrollment peaked at 779. From then, enrollment began to decline, hitting 425 in 1973-74.

During 1974-76, Janet Steputis designed and taught a program for 26 children in grades K-3 that focused on individualized learning and development. In a resource center at Rogers, she saw each student each day for 30 minutes to two hours to address their problems and to "keep kids from getting locked into a negative pattern in school." Her goal was to identify effective means and help children reach objectives defined for them by their classroom teachers.

Under the district's desegregation plan, Rogers (K-3) was paired with Madrona (K, 4-6) in 1979-80.

Recently Rogers has had Portuguese-language instruction for grades 2-5 that was also integrated with the music program. After a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant which trained teachers in inquiry-based science, a math grant from Social Venture Partners was used to train teachers in inquiry-based math. The school enjoys strong support for tutoring and reading programs from two local sources, the Lake City Presbyterian Church and St. Johns Masonic Temple.


Name: John Rogers Elementary School
Location: 4030 NE 109th Street
Building: 16-room brick
Architect: Theo Damm
Site: 9.2 acres
1956: Opened in September

John Rogers Elementary School in 2000
Enrollment: 337
Address: 4030 NE 109th Street
Nickname: Otters
Configuration: K-5
Colors: n.a.


Nile Thompson and Carolyn J. Marr, Building for Learning: Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000 (Seattle: Seattle Public Schools, 2002).

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You