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El Paso ISD celebrates the opening of Murphree PK-8

(MURPHREE PK-8 – Dec. 5, 2022) – El Paso ISD celebrated the completion of Charles Q. Murphree PK-8 on Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring the school’s namesake, a legendary El Paso educator that many refer to as the mayor of the West Side.

Murphree PK-8, the 14th campus in the district’s $668 million bond program, officially opened in August to nearly 900 students. It combines the former Johnson Elementary School and Morehead Middle School, which are feeder schools to Coronado – the high school synonymous with the Murphree name. 

“It’s hard to wipe the smile off your face when you see it or when you hear Murphree School,” Charles Murphree said. “I’m going to have to get used to it. It’s overwhelming. We’re so thankful and proud of this school.”

The $36.3 million campus offers the latest in education technology and learning spaces, a new gymnasium with a weight room, a new library, a new fine arts wing and ample student drop-off zones. The remodeled portion of the former Johnson Elementary now has modernized classrooms, student collaboration spaces, modernized life skills classrooms, a multipurpose room, a computer lab and an elementary music room.

“It’s state of the art – with all of the new amenities,” Principal Rafael Guardardo said. “It’s a great place for these kids to be.”

Guardado also sees the advantage of combining the two West Side campuses to offer pre-kinder through eighth grade.

“The older kids are being role models for the little ones and the little ones look up to older ones,” Guardado said. “It’s also more convenient for parents to bring all their kids here. We will have the little kids here until high school and we take seriously the responsibility to prepare them for Coronado.” 

Charles Murphree and his wife, Jean, were centerstage at today’s celebration, getting a ceremonial key to the school and doing what he loves most – talking with kids. He gave the students an assignment to write letters to thank those involved in providing their education from the bus drivers to cafeteria workers and teachers. He asked that they spread the word to their other classmates.

“We can’t say enough about this school,” he said humbly. “It’s absolutely awesome.”

Charles and Jean Murphree moved to El Paso to attend Texas Western College. Both lifelong educators, they bought began their teaching careers in El Paso ISD at San Juan Elementary School, now known as Hawkins Elementary School. Charles Murphree also served as an assistant principal at Putnam and Zach White elementary schools before becoming principal of Coronado High School in 1972. He retired as principal of Coronado in 1986.

“After 14 years and so many great kids, I’ll bleed blue and gold,” Charles Murphree said, referencing Coronado’s school colors and now Murphree PK-8’s colors, too.

His wife of 70 years stood by his side, smiling and taking in the moment.

“I’m very proud of him,” she said. “He’s worked all hard all his life. He deserves this.”