October 1, 1903 marked the first day of classes for students at a new Montgomery school on Clay Street. The school was built on the northwestern edge of the city near the Alabama River in an area dominated by cotton mills and railroad tracks. West End School provided the first opportunity to education for many poor neighborhood children of working class families. In the first year the school served about 100 pupils, aged 5 - 17, in grades 1 - 8. Many, such as 11 year old Lena Reynolds and Idella Stoddard, attended for a only a few months during the year before having to leave school to work in the mill.
From the beginning the school offered students a way to educate themselves out of the grinding poverty which surrounded them. In 1908 the city began offering night classes at the school to adults and children over the age of 12 who were working during the day and could not attend regular classes. Before 1920 teachers made arrangements for milk delivery at school and in 1923 the school opened a lunchroom to provide nutritious meals for the students. Also in the 1920s the school began offering home economics classes to teach the students to cook and sew and teachers set up a school barbershop to assist with grooming and health. In 1948 the school became the first in the state to participate in a federally funded pilot project to treat student's teeth with fluoride. For many, this provided their first visit to a dentist.
Many of the achievements of the school's early history were accomplished under the leadership of Miss Emma MacMillan, who became principal in 1913. Miss MacMillan served as principal until 1942, when she retired at age 70. Following her death in 1953 the school was renamed MacMillan School.
For nearly fifty years the school did not have a playground. For many years the street in front of the school was blocked off and traffic temporarily halted during recess time. In the 1940s the city began purchasing dilapidated housing across the street from the school and in 1948 the area was cleared for a playground. A few years later, in 1950, a new annex was added to the school to provide additional schoolrooms and a multipurpose auditorium and cafeteria.
Tragedy struck the school in December of 1973 when a fire broke out in a two-story wing addition built in the 1920s. The wing was destroyed in the fire, but new construction added a library and offices in 1974. In December of 1976 another fire broke out and completely destroyed the original 1903 building. After the fire students in grades 1-3 remained in the newer, undamaged portions of the building, while older students were transported each day to classes at Hayneville Road. This situation continued until portable classrooms were added a few years later. Finally, in 1986 a permanent addition was added to the building on the site of the original school.
In 1995 MacMillan School began a new chapter as the MacMillan International Academy for Humanities, Communications, and Technology. The school offers a strong traditional curriculum with an enriched focus on international studies, humanities, technology, and communications. It is a magnet school that draws students from all over Montgomery County and students from countries around the world. From the start in 1903 West End School filled an important role serving the white mill children of west Montgomery, and now MacMillan International Academy enters its second century preparing a multi-cultural, multi-lingual population for the global economy of the 21st century.
On May 25 2011, after 103 year of service, MacMIllan closed its doors for the last time on the West side location. Because of budget strains and the need for growth, MacMillan International Academy moved to its new location taking up residence in the McKee Elementary building at 4015 McInnis Road and has become MacMillan International Academy at McKee under the guidance new Principal, Mrs. Angela James.
Walter T. McKee Elementary School opened its doors for the first time for students on August 12, 2002. The school derives its name from the late Walter T. McKee who served as superintendent of the Montgomery Public Schools from July 1, 1958 through June 30, 1972. During his tenure as superintendent, Mr. McKee bridged the cultures.