George Catlin Elementary School opened in the fall of the 1966-67 school year. It was named after the Philadelphia artist and lawyer, George Catlin (1796-1872).
George Catlin is known for his portraits and paintings of the Indigenous Peoples of the Great Plains which he created while traveling the western frontier in the 1820-1830s.
Catlin’s portraits and paintings are renowned for their accuracy at that time in our history. The bulk of Catlin’s collection of works, which is mainly of ethnographic and historical interest, was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1879.
George Catlin was quoted as saying, "My mind was continually reaching for some branch or enterprise of the art, on which to devote a whole lifetime of enthusiasm."
According to a school history written in 1972, "It was felt that this recognition of one who made a significant contribution to our knowledge of the past would stimulate interest in local history" and so the school was named after George Catlin.
The school was dedicated on May 7, 1967 and opened for children in September, 1967. The cost of the new building was $587,000. Students were previously enrolled primarily in West Pacific School. The first enrollment figure was 459 in September, 1966. Mrs. Caryl Hultquist was Catlin's first principal. By 1972, the enrollment grew to 577 students. Four portables were brought in to accommodate growth. And in 1972, four classrooms were added to the main building.
Today, Catlin's dedicated staff remains focused on providing a strong education for our students. Attendance boundaries have changed over the years as city growth expanded west and new schools were built in the area. Once the largest elementary in West Omaha, Catlin is now one of the smallest elementaries in the Omaha Public Schools district. Catlin's attendance is around 130 students each year. Caring staff, who have the opportunity to really get to know your child and help him/her reach their full potential, is what sets Catlin apart today. Truly, it is a little school with a big heart.