The land now known as Mount Vernon was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, with William Abbe and Daniel Hahn as its original settlers.  Originally named Pinhook, the town was incorporated in 1847 and changed its name to Mount Vernon, choosing a more patriotic name for the community.  The community was then incorporated under the laws of the state of Iowa in 1869.  Education has always been at the heart of the Mount Vernon community, beginning with the founding of Cornell College in the mid-1800’s.  Education is the largest employer in the community with Cornell College and the Mount Vernon Community School District.

Photo of the Ward Building
Ward Building used as a high school until 1926.

The first evidence of a public school in Mount Vernon dates back to January 16, 1840, when a charter for public schools was granted to all Iowa communities.  In Mount Vernon, pupils were taught at various homes in town through the 1800s. However the district built its first schoolhouse, a frame building, in 1852. Mr. L.W. Mason was the first school teacher.  Eventually the district purchased the old Methodist church, then added a brick building in 1867. Education was focused on the ‘Three R’s’ (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic) and pupils attended through 8th grade. Vocational learning was introduced to students in the 1880’s; and activities at the time included Civics and Debate.  During the 1890’s, additional grades and athletic endeavors were introduced to the school program, and music education came on the scene in 1903.

The school district moved from building to building throughout the first fifty years to keep up with student growth.  Eventually, the building now known as the First Street Building was constructed in 1927 with a price tag of $115,000.  It was necessary to build a larger building with a gym to facilitate the new requirement of physical training in the school curriculum.  The building would eventually serve as the high school until 1971 when the current middle school became the new high school.  Washington Elementary was constructed in 1956, and continues to serve students today.  The current high school was then built in 2006 to give the community what it knows now as the three schools on the same campus.

Source: A Centennial History of Mount Vernon, 1847-1947 by the Centennial Committee

Previous Administration

Dr. Gregory Batenhorst 2017-Present
Dr. Gary O’Malley 2013-2017
Dr. Pamela Ewell  2009-2013
Jeffrey Schwiebert 2002-2009
Adrian Ringold 1982-2002
Winston C. Addis 1972-1982
John Klousia 1967-1972
Carl Miles 1965-1967
Harold Plank 1953-1965
Melvin Sikkink 1944-1953