But last year when trustees decided to name the new east side middle school after her, she humbly accepted the honor and even joked that she was glad she'd be around to enjoy it.
Still, it didn't sink in for her until one day she was driving by the school site and saw "Jean McClung Middle School" written in stone.
"I just paused a little bit and had some tears ... this is real," said McClung to a crowded auditorium at the campus' opening ceremony today.
The campus is one of five built in the 2007 bond program. It has various green features to help make it more cost effective and environmentally friendly, officials said, including a geothermal heating and cooling system. The campus has two gyms -- one larger than at most high schools and a smaller one that includes a rock-climbing wall.
Interim superintendent Walter Dansby, who oversaw the bond, said the campus was to have a cafeteria that did double duty as an auditorium but officials were able to later include a separate auditorium, which he said will be available for community use as well.
The $34.4 million school opens this month at the site of the former Handley High School, from which McClung graduated. George Mitcham coached at Handley and later at Eastern Hills High School. He and wife Kathryn drove by the new McCulng campus twice a week as it was being constructed.
"It looks so good, just beautiful," said Mitcham, who taught McClung. "This is a lot better than the old school. A lot better."
Classes start Aug. 22. McClung is expected to open with about 500 students, including seventh graders Johanna Almeda and Shelby White. The girls roamed around the halls wondering which classes would be theirs, where the library was and how they would navigate it all.
"It's awesome," Shelby said. "I think the cafeteria will be my favorite part of it. It's like a high school."
Johnna said she was impressed by the main gym, which features a gold and maroon Trojan (the school's mascot) in the center.
"It's really big and cold in the gym," Johanna said. "I like the cold."
The campus is one of four opening this year. The others are Benbrook Middle School and John T. White and Rosemont elementaries. Here is McClung talking about here new school.