The history of Whittier School is closely associated with the development and expansion of the Iowa Highway Commission and its location on Lincoln Way. As that organization grew in size and increased the number of employees, new residences were established in the area around Lincoln Way and west of the Commission offices and buildings. The children living in this area attended either Roosevelt to the north, across both a busy highway and a hazardous railway; or Lincoln to the east - again having to cross hazardous streets and railroad tracks. The distances were both long and fraught with dangers - real and imaginary! As a result, parents in the area actively promoted the establishment of a new school in the area of Hazel and Maple streets. So it was that a $50,000 bond issue was voted and in 1926 the school became a reality at the actual cost of $42,950. The building was then named in honor of John Greenleaf Whittier, a Massachusetts poet and song writer.
Records show an enrollment for that first year of 98 students in grades kindergarten through four. Miss Myrtle Edgington was the first principal of Whittier (also teaching first grade). Lucille Elledge taught kindergarten, Velma Brown second grade, and Fern Hooker taught a combination third and fourth grade class. In 1933, Ruth Heller replaced Miss Edgington as principal. She was followed by Adella Grobee, who had previously taught first grade at the newly built Louise Crawford School. In 1953, Dale Brentnall became the first man principal of Whittier, in addition to sharing teaching duties at the sixth grade level. In 1967, Mr. Brentnall left Whittier to assume the principalship of the new Gertrude Fellows School located on 20th Street. That same year, Mr. Gaylord Tryon came into the Ames system to become the fourth principal of Whittier School. Mr. Glenn Conner was the fifth.
In 1956, an addition was added to Whittier that included 3 classrooms, a multi-purpose room, kitchen, and a small storage room in the basement. The kitchen has been used as a nurse's room, remedial room, board room, and principal's office - but never for kitchen purposes. The first elementary guidance counselor in the Ames system used the principal's office on the second floor.