Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rummel Creek Elementary celebrates its first 50 years

Utopia. For the first principal at Rummel Creek Elementary School, that’s the word that best describes her long career posting at this historically named, 650-student campus.

This school year marks the 50th anniversary at Rummel Creek. A special public celebration is planned early next year, but staff and students are already gathering stories and memories via video, email, Facebook and even blog postings. (See details below.)

Librarian Karen Harrell and co-writer Dorothy Thompson plan to use a recently won $750 J. Landon Short Mini-Grant to pay for a student research, writing, editing and production project that will result in a book, website, short documentary, or multimedia combination about the school.

Retired Principal Shirley Lincoln (Shirley Hale) won’t ever forget opening Rummel Creek. “I can remember Labor Day 1962 like it was just yesterday.

It was every hand on deck at the school, and that included me,” she says. In the midst of preparations, her husband was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Shirley stayed at her station at the new school.

“It’s been my life,” she says, looking back. She retired in 2000 after 38 years as school principal. Rummel Creek Elementary opened near its enrollment capacity as the early 1960s marked a boom period for residential development. The school is named for Wilhelm Rummel and his family, German immigrants who joined others in the 1840s to found Spring Branch on a quiet branch of the Buffalo Bayou.

In 1854, the Rummels helped raise the area’s first log cabin church near Longpoint and Campbell roads. During her remarkable career, Shirley Lincoln achieved professional renown. In 1972, she was named president of the Texas Elementary School Principals Association. She was president, too, of the seven-state regional association before being named to lead the National Association of Elementary Principals. Rummel Creek’s own history is as storied.

The elementary school was one of the first campuses in SBISD to earn an Outstanding School ranking from the U.S. Dept. of Education. That honor was later renamed the Blue Ribbon School recognition, the highest possible national award for a public school. In 1986, U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett called schools like Rummel Creek “as diverse as America itself, but they share a common attribute – they’re all good schools!”

The school has been consistently rated Exemplary by the Texas Education Agency following TAKS assessments.

One of Principal Lincoln’s favorite memories is Rummel Creek University, a three-week long, student-based research and learning adventure that combined then-new desktop computers with corporate funding. Rummel Creek U won a $750,000 grant from RJR Nabisco for the project in the early 1990s, and the school was also featured in Parenting magazine under the headline “Six Schools That Got It Right.”

“We lived in a utopia here,” Shirley Lincoln says. “We had wonderful parents and wonderful children.” Rummel Creek’s other principals – Mary McMillan, Bill Burger and current Principal Nancy Harn – report that those good things never change. They all speak brightly of their principal postings.

“The faculty and community are just incredible. We all pulled together when 9/11 occurred, and then again when there was construction with the library and the new wings,” says former Principal McMillan. She recently served as leader at Marymount International School-Paris, a private, Roman Catholic school and the oldest international school in the fashionable European capital.

McMillan and former Principal Burger noted that the school’s practice of having its students read beginning books or their first written work aloud to the principal was one of their best memories.

“We always celebrated when students learned to read their first book,” she added. “It comes down to the wonderful kids there,” says Burger, echoing Principal Lincoln. He now serves as assistant principal at Cornerstone Academy.

“Rummel Creek Elementary has a highly professional staff, involved and supportive parents, and energetic children who are engaged in learning,” Principal Nancy Harn says. She has led the school for seven years now.

Design plans will begin soon as Rummel Creek’s community and architects review rebuilding options.

A new elementary school will be built at Rummel Creek. The new school will be the 13th new campus to be built under the 2007 Bond Plan. This additional school project is possible due to cost savings and low interest rates resulting from prior bond program construction work.

Rummel Creek Elementary School Principals Shirley Lincoln (Hale) 1962-2000 Mary McMillan 2000-2002 Bill Burger 2002-2004 Nancy Harn 2005-2012 50th Anniversary Celebration – Save the Date! March 7, 2013 2-4:30 p.m. Rummel Creek Elementary 625 Brittmoore Share your Rummel Creek memories! The school and students are seeking information about alumni, including where they went to college and what they are doing now.

The school is accepting photographs, videos, old T-shirts and other memorabilia for a planned “museum’ project. Items may be copied and returned. For details on the “Living and Leaving a Legacy” project, please contact Librarian Karen Harrell or Dorothy Thompson at 713-251-6727.

Ways to share your stories and memories:
  • By snail mail – Rummel Creek Elementary Library, 625 Brittmoore, Houston, TX 77079
  • By email –
  • Facebook – Search for Rummel Creek Elementary
  • 50th Blog – Please comment at