MCGEE, Jacquelyn Dr. Jacquelyn Ann McGee, retired principal of Stephen F. Austin High School, died Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Born May 2, 1929, to George Cleveland McGee and Annette Jackson McGee, Jacquelyn was the third of four McGee daughters. She grew up in East Austin, helping her parents in their family-owned grocery store, "McGee's Grocery", on Canterbury Street across from the Moon Tower. Her parents lovingly and patiently guided their inquisitive, fun-loving third daughter. She attended Metz Elementary School, John T. Allan Junior High School, and graduated Austin High School in 1946. Jacquelyn received bachelors and master's degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, and in 1969 received a post-graduate degree in Education Administration. She began her teaching career in 1952 at Allan Jr. High. When the Allan building was destroyed by fire, the students and faculties of Allan and University Jr. High were called upon to follow half-day sessions on the UJH campus. When the new semester began, Ms. McGee was assigned to Austin High School as a teacher of English. When A.S. Johnston High School was built, Jacquelyn transferred to become chair of the English Department and sponsored the yearbook, school newspaper, National Honor Society and student council. Jacquelyn was promoted to "Dean of Students," a position she held for four years. Further, she wrote the school song, "Loyal Hearts," and the fight song, "Fighting Rams." Her next assignment came when she was promoted to T. N. Porter Jr. High School as Assistant Principal. This was the first year of cross-town busing, implemented to facilitate integration of the Austin Independent School District. In 1974 Jacquelyn was appointed Principal of Lamar Junior High School. That same year she was once again promoted, this time to Principal of the newly constructed Austin High School. With this assignment she became the first woman in the State of Texas to serve as principal of a high school in a major urban center. Under Jacquelyn's leadership her school received a steady stream of accolades. She encouraged maximum student and staff participation in the administration of her school. She was also recognized for her special skill in planning, organizing, and establishing exemplary school governance. Jacquelyn also developed and implemented a more rigorous attendance policy for her school, as well as an honors graduation plan designed to encourage increased enrollment in a more academically challenging course of study. The attendance plan was subsequently adopted by the Board of Education for all secondary schools in the District. Jacquelyn consistently encouraged special events to identify and address school needs. Additionally, she sought ways to recognize and honor student and faculty achievement. The "Austin High Hall of Honor" with its annual Dedication Day ceremony is an example of activities that she supported with great pride. "Distinguished Graduates" and "Honored Faculty" were recognized and celebrated. McGee herself was recognized as both "Distinguished Alumnae" and "Honored Faculty". Students and faculty in 2001 further honored Ms. McGee by naming their new performance facility "The Jacquelyn McGee Performing Arts Center." During the time she was Principal, the Austin Association of Teachers, The Texas Association of Journalism Directors, The Central Texas Personnel and Guidance Association, and The Vocational Education Teachers of Texas named McGee "Administrator of the Year". The University of Texas also honored her as "Outstanding Administrator." Both the American Association of University Women and the International Delta Kappa Gamma Society further designated her as the "Outstanding Woman in Education." The Austin American Statesman and the Austin Citizen newspapers honored her two different years as one of five "Outstanding Women in Austin." The Delta Kappa Gamma Society also recognized her as "Outstanding Administrator." After her retirement in 1988, following twelve years as Principal, Jacquelyn became the Austin Independent School District's only Secondary Supervising Principal and she was called back to duty to serve as "Interim Principal" of various schools as needs surfaced in the AISD. Ms. McGee served as president of the Austin Association of Public School Administrators, as well as that organization's Professional Consultation Council. She served two terms on the National Board of Directors of the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Additionally, she was recognized as a "Fellow" in the Kettering Foundation's IDEA Academy of Fellows. She has been listed in "Who's Who Among American High School Administrators", "Most Prominent Educators of Texas" and "Who's Who of American Women." A highlight in her professional career came when the United States Department of Education paid tribute to Austin High School as one of only forty "Outstanding High Schools in the United States," one of only two high schools in the State of Texas, so designated. She was thrilled to have her faculty and staff recognized for their high standards and consistent commitment to excellence. Ms. McGee was invited to the White House by President Ronald Reagan to receive this honor. Jacquelyn was recognized as an effective listener who could be tough and gentle at the same time. Her sense of humor was said to be one of her most effective tools. Jacquelyn is survived by sister, Lou McGee Kasmarek. Her sisters: Nettye McGee Caldwell of Austin, and Helen McGee Behe of Mt. Clemens, Michigan are deceased. She had eleven nieces and nephews: Tom Caldwell, III, Catherine Caldwell Gourley, Mark Cleveland Kasmarek, John McGee Caldwell (deceased), Marla Catherine Francis, Susan Lynette Caldwell, Diane Behe Gorch, George Behe, Paul Behe, Chris Kasmarek and Tony Kasmarek, along with additional lake-family members, Mickey Rogers, Brad Rogers and David Ball. "Jackie", as her family and friends knew her, had a magical home on Lake Travis, which she named, "Goo's View". From the hilltop overlooking Pool Canyon, Jackie welcomed her family to spend summer vacations on the lake. Swimming, waterskiing, boating, bird watching, sailing and horseback riding were among the past times of the children of Goo's View, along with playing dominoes and pitching horse shoes. Jackie's fondest memories were of those family gatherings. She spoke of those years, saying "Those were the golden days - it just doesn't get any better than that". Jackie compiled a guitar songbook of her favorite tunes (some of which, she personalized with her own lyrics) and provided musical and percussion instruments to play, and led in singing and directing "Open Houses" for all to sing those family harmonies and perform around the camp fire. In her later years, Jackie lost her vision to Macular Degeneration. She attended classes at the Texas School for the Blind. She purchased cutting edge computer software and continued to live a productive, full life. She loved writing and mastered the software to achieve her many goals. In her later years, she loved entertaining her dearest friends and family for poolside parties at her home on Barton Creek where live music was always requested and laughter always shared. Jacquelyn Ann McGee was a beloved resident of Brookdale Northwest Hills, where she lived for the last eight years. Her love of music pulled her through and one of her favorite accomplishments was playing DJ for Brookdale's weekly happy hour. Ms. McGee died quietly in her sleep and is currently writing a songbook, somewhere, in parts unknown. Cremation will be by Weed Corley Fish Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Austin High School Hall of Honor, 1715 Caesar Chavez, Austin Texas 78703.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Jun. 4, 2020.