Gilchrist Elementary History & Namesake

  • Due to the growth of the northern section of Leon County, plans were drawn for an elementary school on Timberlane Road. Twenty acres of land were purchased from Dr. C.K. Wall on June 28, 1965 at a cost of $40,000.

    The architects - Huddleston, Satterfield, Evens and Lillie - began to draw up plans soon after the purchase of the land. These plans were approved by the School Board and construction began January 18, 1966.

    On September 7, 1966, Timberlane School opened its doors for the first day of class with Mr. J. M. Gilchrist serving as the principal. Timberlane School started with 18 classroom teachers, a music teacher, a librarian, a physical education teacher and 552 students.

    A Parent Teacher Association was formed in October 1966, and changed to a Parent Teacher Auxiliary in October 1967. Through the efforts of this organization, the school was able to purchase playground equipment, shrubbery, trees and reception room furniture. This organization is now called the Gilchrist PTO, and it continues to raise funds to provide needed school enhancements not otherwise covered by the school's annual budget.

    The name of Timberlane School was changed in 1979 to Gilchrist Elementary in honor of the retiring principal - Mr. James Gilchrist. Mrs. Lena Thomas was named principal in September 1979. Mrs. Thomas was the principal until her retirement in 1983. Mr. Frank Laporta served the school as principal from June 1983 - March 1989. He left to open a new elementary school in the ever growing northeast section of the county. Upon his departure, Dr. Richard Holihan was selected to serve as principal. The new construction in 1992 was supervised by Dr. Holihan, who served as principal from May 1989 - June 1993. Mrs. Edna Owens came on board in the summer of 1993 and served as principal for 11 years until stepping down as principal in June 2004. Mr. Scotty Crowe took over in the summer of 2004 and left to open a new middle school in June 2007. Dr. Jonathan Grantham joined the Gilchrist Family, as principal, in the summer of 2007 and left to serve at Florida High in 2009. Mr. David Solz joined the Gilchrist Family, as principal, in the summer of 2009.

    Gilchrist Elementary continues to not only meet, but exceed, state educational standards. As a school of distinction and excellence, Gilchrist each year since 1999 has earned an "A" rating from the State of Florida.  In 2008 Gilchrist was also awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award. The No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools award distinguishes and honors schools for helping students achieve at very high levels and for making significant progress in closing the achievement gap. Our entire school community has much for which to be proud!

    As Gilchrist marks its 50th year of educating Tallahassee children, it is good to know that Gilchrist's rich tradition of educational excellence is still going strong today!