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Grace Jordan


Grace Jordan Elementary School was officially dedicated on Friday, October 10, 2008. Boise School District officials, students, parents, relatives of the late Grace Jordan, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, Boise Parks and Recreation Department officials, architects, engineers, and construction company representatives gathered for the formal dedication ceremony at the site of the school, 6411 W. Fairfield Avenue, Boise.

Construction of Grace Jordan Elementary School was made possible due to the overwhelming support by voters of the 94 million dollar bond to consolidate, renovate and rebuild a number of schools. The successful bond made construction of a number of schools possible, including construction of Grace Jordan Elementary School.  In March of 2006 voters passed the bond with 70.45% of the yes vote.

During the Grace Jordan Elementary School dedication ceremony, then Boise School Board Trustee Bea Black shared some highlights about Grace Jordan’s remarkable life.  “Grace Jordan left an indelible mark on Idaho,” said Trustee Black.  “She taught English, journalism and fiction writing at four western universities, including Boise Junior College. She was a life-long free-lance journalist, created poetry, and wrote Home Below Hells Canyon, her first book, which was translated into six languages.  She is credited with acquainting people throughout the nation and, indeed, the world with the many facets of our beloved state.”

Home Below Hells Canyon details the lives of the Jordan family on the Snake River Ranch they lived on during the early 1940’s.  Grace Jordan’s other books include Canyon Boy, The King’s Pines of Idaho, Country Editor, and The Unintentional Senator.  With the exception of The Unintentional Senator, her books are based in Idaho.  Jordan was also influential in forming the Idaho Writer’s League, and helped sponsor a short story contest from which she published The Idaho Reader.

Jordan was born in Wasco, Oregon on April 16, 1892, daughter of a country doctor and a school teacher.  She received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in English from the University of Oregon, along with a Phi Beta Kappa Key.

She free-lanced for many northwest newspapers after college and worked as the society editor for the Eugene Morning Register and as a correspondent for the Lewiston Tribune.  She married Leonard B. Jordan on December 30, 1924, and moved to a ranch at Kirkwood Bar on the Idaho side of the Snake River in 1933 with their three children.

Her husband served in the Idaho State Senate, U.S. Senate, and was elected Governor of Idaho in 1950. Grace Jordan served with distinction as Idaho’s First Lady from 1950 to 1954.  When she died on September 17, 1985 in Boise she left behind a lasting legacy. Her daughter is quoted as saying, “she encouraged us, and people around her, to always look for the best in everyone your life touches. She wanted everyone to live a life that may be a light unto the world around them and to encourage others to do likewise.”

Boise School District officials say it is fitting that the new school is named after Grace Jordan.

“We, in the Boise School District, have a great deal in common with Grace Jordan,” said Dr. Don Coberly, then Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Boise School District.  “She believed strongly in education, and we are equally passionate about education, specifically, providing the finest public education available to each and every child.”

Dr. Coberly thanked voters for providing the financial resources needed to make construction of the new school possible.  Grace Jordan Elementary School, which opened for the start of the 2008-09 school year, serves 550 students.  

Click here to watch a video of the dedication ceremony.  

The following are further facts regarding Grace Jordan Elementary School:

Size: 58,825 square feet, includes 2,100 square feet for Boise School District’s Just for Kids child care program and 4,000 square feet for a Community Center to be operated by Boise City Parks and Recreation Department.

  • 20 Classrooms (K-6) and a music room.

  • Classrooms have “smart boards” that allow for Internet access and multi-media presentations.

  • Special education classrooms consisting of: “Self-contained” special education, two resource rooms, and a pre-school special education classroom.

  • Includes a Title One and English Language Learner classroom.

  • Media center includes a computer lab.

  • Larger gym than original prototype.

  • Larger cafeteria than original prototype, due to fewer lunch periods.

  • Construction materials include: metal roof, variety of colored block concrete walls with metal siding and different colored exterior doors.

  • The District will share Community Center (Boise City Parks & Recreation space), while they have their own entry.

  • Exterior doors will have “door position switches” with card readers at the major entries. Security cameras will be positioned toward the back and front of the school.

  • Approximate cost to construct:  $11 million