Our Story

Walk through our doors, and step into the heart of McGillis.

As a small, grinning first-grader struggles to hold the door open for you, your first glimpse offers everything a school should be — light, warmth, openness, the bustle of kids, a community surrounding the coffee urn. A place where everyone, from teacher to student to parent, feels welcome. A place where everyone wants to come every day.

A place that feeds the soul and stimulates the mind and encourages looking and being outside. Outside one’s self — to meet others where they are; outside the classroom — to learn by experience; outside one’s traditions — to find and embrace new ones.

We are an independent K-8 school, founded on values we see as universal to the world we aspire to live in, nurture, and restore.Our values are our foundation but it’s what grows from the foundation that is most interesting. Students, relationships, mentoring, community.

Welcome to the Start of a Lifetime

From the very beginning, we have always believed in the power that lies in the formative years of a child’s life. A belief that when our children are given the right start — a valued sense of self, along with a valued sense of all that is around them — when this foundation is set, our children will find their place in this increasingly complex, yet ultimately fascinating world. And therein lies the difference in The McGillis School.

The Educational Experience

In every sense of the word, McGillis is a school - a school of high academic standards, where each student is challenged to excel, and where our teachers focus on understanding each child’s learning style, leading and guiding our students to become strong and capable learners for a lifetime. 

Growing Kids Who Care

But McGillis is also a school of the highest engagement — with our world, our society, and each other, embodying a spirit of community, ethics, and social responsibility. 

At McGillis, while our singular focus on the K-8 school years defines us, far more importantly, it defines our students. A belief that these are the years when the whole child — emotionally, academically, socially — can be nurtured to learn not just how, but why. Not only what, but to what end. Not merely the reason, but the reasoning.

The Perfect Start

We believe our goal as educators is to provide this start for each child here: The start of a lifetime … of learning and laughing and asking and engaging with those around them… of something greater than themselves, curious about the opportunities ahead, and ultimately, the start of a lifetime with true impact on our world. 

This can be your child.

At The McGillis School.

Welcome to the start of a lifetime.   


Explore our Vision-Purpose-Mission-Values

Meet Us

The McGillis School is a community of students, parents, teachers, and staff who all work together to create an environment of learning and welcomeness. We invite you to visit and experience the magic of McGillis. 

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McGillis History

  • The McGillis School was founded as The Jewish Community Center Elementary School with twelve students.

  • The Jewish Community Center Elementary School is renamed The McGillis JCC Elementary School in honor of Joanne and Richard McGillis, for their support of the school.

  • In the spring, the school gains 501(c)3 status, incorporates, and becomes an independent entity called The McGillis School. On December 7, 2002, The McGillis School purchases the historic Douglas School.

  • The McGillis School opens its doors to students on September 1. Named for its primary benefactors, The Joanne and Richard McGillis School begins the school year with 129 students in grades one through seven.

  • The School begins to double the number of classes beginning with the addition of a second first grade class. The first class of eighth grade students graduates from The McGillis School in 2005. The School becomes a candidate member of the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS).

  • The McGillis School gains fully accredited status with PNAIS. The School receives multiple commendations and no conditions.

  • The McGillis School opens its doors to the completed 57,000 square foot expansion with 325 students in Kindergarten through eighth grades.

  • McGillis becomes the first K-8 school in Utah to achieve Gold LEED Certification.

  • The McGillis School receives the Platinum Utah Green School Award.

  • The school celebrates 10 years at the Historic Douglas School location.

  • The school year begins with 390 students and is reaccredited unconditionally with the NWAIS, receiving many commendations.

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