March is Women in History Month, so we give a little extra attention to all of the amazing accomplishments of strong, determined women of Southeast Polk Community School District. Since 1987, the United States has formally recognized March as National Women’s History Month. Every woman has a story to tell and gifts to share with the world. So get ready, because this month is about honoring the magnificent ladies of SEP, and we are ready to celebrate it to the fullest.

We continue to recognize women inducted into the SEP Hall of Honor.

Phyllis Murphy – Longtime SEP Employee and Community Advocate

Phyllis MurphyPhyllis Murphy joined the Southeast Polk family in 1969 as the secretary at Altoona Elementary. In 1974, she transferred to the district office and was secretary to Superintendent Dr. Ken Sand for 17 years, Larry May for one year, and lastly with Dr. Joe Drips. She was on the original board creating Central Place Family Resource and Community Education Center. She loved her job at Southeast Polk and those experiences have been very interesting and rewarding. Her motto was to do the best you can in any job assigned, treat people with respect, and don’t forget to laugh! Phyllis has been a member of the Lutheran Church of the Cross, Altoona American Legion Auxiliary, Chamber and the Parks Board. She was a member of the prestigious group called the Altoona Kitchen Band. Phyllis is still very active in the community. She is involved with the Altoona Historical Society and attends almost every school board meeting. 

Phyllis and her husband, Tom, are the proud parents of two children, Cindy Fick (Class of 79) and Kathy Abbott (Class of ’82). Grandson Evan Fick (Class of 2004), granddaughter Carrie Fick (Class of 2009) and son-in-law Mike Fick (Class or 78) were all graduates of SEP. 


Jean Bragg – SEP Lifelong Educator

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Jean Bragg obtained her AA degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and then taught in the same school she had attended as a child. In 1960 the family moved to Des Moines and Jean continued her education getting a B.S and Master’s Degree in Education from Drake University. Jean was hired by Principal Roger Mahnke to work at Altoona Elementary in 1964. She transferred to Centennial in 1969 where she taught until her retirement in 1983. Jean was at the forefront of a new concept in teaching called “team teaching” during her teaching at SEP. In addition to being an excellent teacher, Jean inspired her colleagues by helping and encouraging teachers to be successful and embrace the love of learning for their students.

Jean demonstrated the meaning of being an elementary teacher and encouraging her students to be lifelong learners.  She was always ahead of the times in education, trying new things and developing new methods in reading, math, literature, writing, poetry, and social studies.  She demonstrated what education was about and the true value of learning for the rest of your life always looking for new ways to help children enjoy learning and become lifelong learners. Jean was a lifelong learner herself and indeed was a person of character who was of great benefit to Southeast Polk.

Jean passed away on August 13, 2005.