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March 29, 2024

Women’s History Month: Kate Mitchell

The most recent elementary school in the Ames Community School District bears the name Kate (Lysinger) Mitchell, dedicated on November 8, 1970. An Ames native, according to the program dedicating the school, Mitchell was born in Rippey to a coal miner. After spending time at Iowa State College and later Drake University, Lysinger started teaching at Creston’s elementary school in southwest Iowa’s Union County. In 1911, Lysinger returned to Story County, where she started her story with 41 years of service for the Ames school system.

Her first school year in Ames started September 4, 1911. She taught grades 4B and 5B at the since-razed Beardshear School, which was located at the northeast corner of the intersection of 9th and Carroll. The following school years reflect her teaching assignments over the early part of her career:

  • 1914-1915, grades 3B and 4B
  • 1916-1917, grades 2B and 3B and principal of Lincoln Elementary
  • 1918-1919, second grade, and continuing as principal of Lincoln Elementary

Over the summer of 1919, from August 1 to August 31, 1919, Lysinger, along with some of her colleagues, taught summer school for students who missed school due to the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918. 

According to the Ames Daily Tribune and Times, from August 2, 1919: 

“The attendance was an average of sixty a day and the showing made is such that the greater majority of students will now be enabled to continue the classes which were sent to higher grades on the last day of school.”

She married in Vancouver, Washington, in August 1924.

In addition to her teaching days, Mitchell was on the local Junior Red Cross board of directors in the 1920s until becoming the campaign chairman from December 10, 1929, to July 1, 1949.

On May 23, 1952, Mitchell, now a soon-to-be-retired principal of Lincoln School, was honored with a picnic put on by the Lincoln School PTA at Brookside Park. A Tribune recap of the event shared that about 150 adults and students were present, and both the games and the hiking were enjoyable. 

Mitchell was present at the dedication ceremony in 1970. Mrs. Mitchell passed away in October 1976 at the age of 89.