From the beginning, the Harlandale Independent School District has been fortunate to be part of the rich and unique cultural heritage inherent to the southside of San Antonio. No other school district in the city can match the pioneering history of this area, especially with the historic San Antonio missions. In fact, one of those missions - San Jose - was home to the beginning of education in Harlandale.
San Jose Mission was founded in 1720 by Padre Antonio Margil de Jesus. The Franciscan fathers of the mission were the first teachers of the area.
Among the first settlers of the mission was Pedro Huizar, whose famous "Rosa's Window" is the earliest known work of sculpture in the United States. "Rosa's Window" has been described as one of the most beautiful designs in America. The legend of the window's origin is as renowned as the window itself. Pedro Huizar created the window for his sweetheart Rosita, who was to join him at the mission. Before the window was complete, however, word came that Rosita had died in an epidemic that broke out among the ship's passengers. Pedro was heartbroken and stopped working on the window. Padre Margil convinced him to complete it in her memory. Pedro Huizar would later serve as a surveyor and justicio of Mission Concepcion and San Jose. Huizar was alcaldeof Mission Concepcion in 1795.
The secularization of the five San Antonio missions was ordered on February 23, 1793. All the lands were surveyed for distribution to the Indios, ancestors of some of the residents of Harlandale today. As a reward for his services, Pedro Huizar was given title to lands. His son, Jose Antonio Huizar, was awarded the Granary at San Jose Mission on July 22, 1815. He was also given farmland for a homestead. The Granary remained in the Huizar family for 16 years. The Huizars would later open the Granary to continue the education of the area's children. It was there, at the Granary, that education in Harlandale would begin.
The children of Harlandale first attended school in 1888 in the Granary at the San Jose Mission. The Granary was found to be too dark and uncomfortable; so after one year they moved to the Saucedo House on the plaza of the mission. The students were taught by Mrs. Vicenta Rodriguez Yturri Edmunds, the daughter of Manuel Yturri and Josefa Rodriguez. Mrs. Edmunds was descended from one of the original Spanish families that came from the Canary Islands to settle in San Antonio in 1731. She attended a private school, the Ursuline Academy in San Antonio. She was then sent to finish her education in the classics at the Ursuline Academy in New Orleans. There she met her future husband, Ernest B. Edmunds, who she married in the church at Mission Concepcion. While they lived on her family's plantation near the mission, she gathered the children of the plantation and taught them reading, writing and religion. Later, she traveled to Mission San Jose, rented the Granary and taught children there.
Most accounts date Harlandale schools from 1894 but the Bexar County Commissioners Court minutes refer to a common school district near Mission Espada as early at 1884. Commissioners Court gave this common school district the number 37 in 1888. Common School District #37 included the schools at San Jose Mission, San Francisco de Espada Mission and Buena Vista. The length of the school term was six months.
In 1889, the election for school trustees for District #37 was held at the San Jose schoolhouse. J.B. Chavaneaux, J.N. Escalera and Frank Ashley were elected trustees. The community of San Jose was located north of the homestead of the Terrell family, which was west of Pleasanton Road. In 1923, the schoolhouse was moved from a location two blocks north of Hutchins and one block west of Commercial, which places the old San Jose schoolhouse within the present boundaries of the Harlandale Independent School District. In 1890, the trustees' election was held again at Espada School. J.B. Chavaneaux, F.E. Grothaus and J.N. Escalera were elected. The trustees for District #37 in 1891 and 1892 were J.B. Chavaneaux, J.N. Escalera and Blake DeWitt. However, the 1892 election was contested and in 1894, there were six candidates. the incumbents lost. The candidates with the most votes were Fred Poor (49 votes), J. Canon (42 votes) and Miguel Gutierrez (40 votes).
Captain David Morrill Poor donated land at what is now the intersection of Greenwood Street and East Sayers Avenue during the year of 1894. Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Frederick Poor built a schoolhouse at the location. Morrill Chapel School was named in honor of Captain David Morrill Poor. The building served as a school and a chapel for religious services on Sunday afternoon.
At the time the school was built, there was only $78 in the Bexar County treasury for this district. With no money to pay a contractor, Mr. Poor built the school. Mrs. Poor held the boards while Mr. Poor drove the nails. The benches and desks were made of boards from Mr. Poor's barn. The blackboards were the walls painted black. The erasers were made from old pieces of carpet. the teacher's chair, stove and table came from Mrs. Poor's home. When the school opened in 1894 there were 11 students. Miss Annie Work was the first teacher at a salary of $25 a month. Miss work taught from 1894 to 1898. All the students pitched in to do the different chores to maintain the school. The boys would cut the wood that Mr. Poor hauled from the river bottom. The girls would sweep the floors and keep things orderly. Mrs. Poor hauled a barrel of water a week from her home to the school in her horse-drawn cart.
In 1898, Miss Ernestine Edmunds, a pretty brunette who was not quite 16, came to teach at Morrill Chapel School. Miss Edmunds rode her big white horse, Gunpowder, to school each morning. Miss Edmunds taught ten years in the Morrill Chapel School and was never absent. She was the daughter of Ernest Edmunds and Vicenta Rodriguez Yturri Edmunds. The first U.S. flag to fly over a school in Bexar County was placed at Morrill Chapel School by Miss Edmunds. She was later given a citation by the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge for being one of the pioneer women in education.
In 1905, the citizens of Common School District #37 petitioned the Commissioners Court to levy a special school tax of ten cents per $100 valuation and the petition passed. In 1908, the old school building was abandoned and a new two-room school was built. By 1911, four additional rooms were added, giving the school the appearance of a "T."
Harlandale ISD is created
In 1910, W. Cassin, president of the Mission Irrigated Farms Company, and others were granted a transfer of lands from School District #26 to School District #37. Their children could now attend the new schools in District #37. In response, in 1911 citizens of School District #37 petitioned to divide and create a new school district. The new School District #40 boundaries did not include the children in District #26 or those attending the Espada School and San Jose School.
With new boundaries set, the citizens of School District #40 next petitioned in 1911 for an election to vote on a special school tax not to exceed fifty cents per $100 valuation. The tax passed. Mr. George Baxter was elected head principal of the Harlandale Common School District #40 and served the district until 1925.
The citizens of District #40 petitioned in 1913 for an election on bonds for building and equipping a new school building. On March 8, 1913, a $23,000 bond issue was approved. The money was used to build a two-and-a-half-story building in 1914. This school came to be known as Morrill High School. The school was classified by the State Board of Education as a high school of the second class. Morrill High School taught grades one through 10. To complete 11th grade, students had to go to the old Main High School (now Fox Tech) or Brackenridge High School.
Morrill High School housed four classrooms, an office and a teacher's lounge on the first floor. Two classrooms and the auditorium were located on the second floor and the basement housed the restrooms and manual training classes. Through the philanthropy of Colonel George W. Brackenridge, the school was fully equipped with manual training and domestic science laboratories. Colonel Brackenridge also paid the salaries of the manual training and domestic science instructors for two years. This building served as a combined elementary and high school until a high school building (the first Harlandale High School) opened in 1926. Morrill turned into an elementary school in 1929.
On December 9, 1916, a portion of School District #26, which included Terrell Wells, was transferred to School District #40. The 13.73-square-mile district was filed as Harlandale Common School District #40.
In 1922, a $30,000 bond issue passed to build a six-room red brick building on East Huff Avenue named Huff Avenue Ward School (now Wright Elementary) and a two-room school named San Jose Ward School (now Carroll Bell Elementary) on the corner of Harding Boulevard and Pleasanton Road. Each school taught grades first through eighth.
On January 26, 1924, the citizens held an election at Morrill High School to incorporate as an independent school district. The vote was 168 in favor and 23 against. County Judge August McCloskey then declared the incorporation of Harlandale ISD for free school purposes. That same school year, citizens again voted for a bond issue, this time for $110,000 to be used for building a two-room school at the corner of Commercial and Stonewall streets (Stonewall Elementary) and to build the first Harlandale High School (now part of the Harlandale Middle School campus).
Superintendents and our schools
In the summer of 1925, Mr. Henry Hutto of Kingsville, Texas was elected the first superintendent of the Harlandale Independent School District. A year later, Harlandale High School was built. The unit to the south was used until 1953. The unit to the north was built in 1929 for the Harlandale Junior High School. Today, both units are known as the junior high.
In 1929, Morrill Chapel School, which had served as a high school, was turned into an elementary school.
Mr. Hutto was followed by Mr. Robert H. Brannon of Mineral Wells, Texas, who served as superintendent from 1933-1939. During his administration, additional rooms were built at San Jose (Carroll Bell) and Stonewall Elementary schools. A band hall was built at the high school.
In the summer of 1939, Mr. S. Wiley Seal of Sinton, Texas was elected superintendent. One new room and an auditorium were built at San Jose and two new rooms and an auditorium were built at Stonewall during his tenure. Plans were also made to secure a federal building on Gerald Avenue and an additional two rooms for Stonewall.
Mr. Dillard McCollum was selected to succeed Mr. Seale after Mr. Seale resigned in July 1942 to go into defense work. To keep pace with the accelerated growth during this period, Harlandale voters approved a $2,000,000 bond program for new buildings and modernization.
Gerald Avenue Elementary school was completed in 1943.
Collier Elementary had its beginning in 1948. It was named for Villa Neal Collier, one of Harlandale ISD's first principals.
In 1949, Rayburn Elementary opened.
Mayfield Park Elementary School opened its doors in September 1951. It was renamed Bellaire during the 1959-60 school year because it was located in the Bellaire subdivision.
In 1953, the current Harlandale High School campus opened. A new site was selected for Gerald Avenue Elementary (later Adams Elementary) and a new school was built. The building that formerly housed Gerald became part of the new site of Harlandale High School. What was known as San Jose Elementary became E. Carroll Bell.
In 1954, Armando Leal Middle School was built. It was formerly Southcross Junior High but was renamed in honor of a former student who died in Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Navy.
Scheh Elementary opened in 1956. It later housed the Harlandale Alternative Center and is now known as the Scheh Center, which still houses the program. Terrell Wells also opened this year on resort property bought by Carlton Adams to build a school.
Columbia Heights Elementary opened in 1958 with 24 classrooms. It was named after the neighborhood where it is located.
Two years later, in 1960, Kingsborough Elementary opened. The name was later changed in 1974 to Homer W. Schulze Elementary in honor of its first principal. Gillette Elementary also opened its doors in 1960 with 24 classrooms.
On January 15, 1962, Harlandale's citizens approved a $500,000 bond issue for sidewalks, drainage and expansion at the campuses of a three-year period. Mr. McCollum passed away June 8, 1962 while serving as superintendent of HISD. Mr. McCollum had first been associated with Harlandale as a student at Morrill School. Her served the district for 37 years as a teacher, principal and superintendent. A new high school was named Dillard McCollum High School in his honor.
Mr. John C. Gonder was named superintendent in June of 1962. Mr. Gonder had previously served the district as a principal of the old Gerald and Stonewall Elementary School and Harlandale Junior High School. Under Mr. Gonder's guidance, Harlandale ISD continued to change and grow. In 1964, Huff Avenue School which opened in 1922 was renamed after Mr. Sidney A. Wright, principal from 1956 till his death in 1964. Two new elementary school (Flanders and Vestal) were built in 1965. One new junior high school (Kingsborough) was built in 1968 as well as a central library and additional classrooms and facilities on existing school campuses. Two bookmobile units were purchased for use by the central elementary library. In September of 1965, a bilingual education program was implemented in the Harlandale schools.
Upon Mr. Gonder's retirement in June of 1968, Mr. Callie W. Smith was selected as superintendent. Mr. Smith came to Harlandale as an assistant superintendent in August 1962 from the Tuloso-Midway schools in Corpus Christi, Texas.
In 1968, the citizens of Harlandale passed a $5,000,000 bond issue that provided funds for construction of Mission Elementary School (now Gilbert), the Harlandale Center for Multi-handicapped Children and a new wing with 18 classrooms, a gym, band hall, industrial arts and homemaking departments for Kingsborough Junior High School. McCollum High School added a new ROTC complex, enlarged the gym, expanded its cafeteria and added air-conditioning to the library. These funds also provided a central textbook depository, food service supply center, additional office area at the administration building and additional maintenance warehouse storage as well as extensive remodeling and expansions at all other HISD schools. In September of 1968, Harlandale implemented the use of a mobile speech and hearing lab operated by the special education department.
The 1969-70 school year experienced a change in the grade distribution on campus. Moving to the middle school concept, the ninth grades were moved from the junior high schools to the high school. The sixth grades moved from the elementary schools to the junior high schools. There were also new programs implemented in vocational guidance and vocational education for the handicapped. A kindergarten program was also initiated as well as a special educating pupil appraisal center that operated on a "Cluster" arrangement with Region 20 Education Service Center. Harlandale ISD served as the host district with 12 regional districts cooperating.
A mobile driver education training unit, under a cooperative cluster arrangement with these same districts, was implemented during the 1970-1971 school year. Mission Elementary opened in 1971. Harlandale Memorial Stadium, dedicated to those students of the district who gave their lives in service to their country, was completed in the fall of 1971. In October of 1971, the National Bellamy Award was presented to McCollum High School as the representative of Texas public schools. December of that year brought a grant for a model career education program to be implemented in January of 1972 for grades kindergarten through twelfth.
Mr. Smith resigned as superintendent effective July 1, 1972. Mr. Charles Boggess took the seat. He had come to HISD in September of 1946 as a teacher and coach. He served as Coordinator of Athletics, Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs, Assistant Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent.
In 1972, the school cafeterias began a breakfast program.
In 1973, citizens voted to rename Gerald Elementary after Mrs. Verda Mae Adams, a longtime active member of the Harlandale PTA and other community organizations. Adams Elementary, as we know it today, was built in 2008.
In 1974, Mission Elementary was renamed E.H. Gilbert Elementary in honor of E. Hall Gilbert, the schools first principal.
During the 1974-1975 school year, the Harlandale ISD reached a peak enrollment of nearly 18,500 students. In May of 1975, a Citizens Advisory Committee composed of sixteen members was appointed by the Board of Trustees to study the projected needs and priorities of the district for the next five years. The committee members visited every school and site in the district and presented their recommendations to the board.
On July 18, 1977, citizens voted for a $2,000,000 bond issue to repair roofs and to replace heaters, old plumbing fixtures and furniture in classrooms and offices. Bond money was also used for the removal of the old Morrill School. Campus security was brought to Harlandale ISD in 1977. The purpose was to deter violence and provide protection for students and administrators. The Continuing Education Program also began that year. A center was also started to serve the district's visual/auditory and multi-handicapped population.
Mr. Boggess retired June 30, 1985. On July 1, Dr. Yvonne Katz became Harlandale's first female superintendent. Dr. Katz was also Bexar County's only female superintendent at the time, as well as one of the first female superintendents in the state. Dr. Katz came to Harlandale from the Texas Education Agency in Austin.
In 1985, a pre-kindergarten program began at Columbia Heights Elementary. On October 12, the district passed a $13.5 million bond issue, the biggest in history. The money was designated for building 64 additional elementary classrooms as well as libraries/learning centers at the elementary campuses. Both were required by state law. In addition, the funds were used for making necessary improvements and adding air conditioning to all HISD campuses.
Stonewall Elementary merged with the staff from Flanders to become Stonewall Flanders Elementary in 1987. It became the districts Child Development Center.
In 1988 Stonewall Elementary School became a campus that served only pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students and the name was changed to Stonewall Child Development Center.
The Burger King Corporate Academy opened for classes on January 31, 1990 in Harlandale United Methodist Church. The academy was designed for individualized educational, social and employment opportunities for at-risk high school students. This is a cooperative effort between the Burger King corporation, Communities in Schools, the Harlandale United Methodist Church and Harlandale ISD. The campus that housed the academy is now the Frank Tejeda Academy. The name change took effect in 1997. It was named in honor of the former State Representative.
The Teenage Parent Program began in 1991 for male and female teenage parents in the Harlandale ISD. Childcare and parenting classes were provided while the parents continue their education. They exited the program upon graduation.
The 1991-1992 school year brought year-round education to four of the Harlandale schools: Rayburn Elementary, Scheh Elementary, Stonewall Child Development Center and the Harlandale Center for Multi-handicapped Children. Students in year-round school attended classes the same number of days as those students in traditional schools but they had shorter, more frequent vacations: nine weeks in school and three-week intersection periods. During those breaks, schools facilities were used for remediation and enrichment. In October 1991, a resolution was submitted to the Harlandale ISD to establish a police department. When approved, the officers enrolled in San Antonio College to complete the required 400 hours of training to receive peace officers' certification and the campus security department changed its name to Harlandale ISD Police.
Dr. Katz resigned as superintendent on November 16, 1992 to accept the post of superintendent for the Beaverton School District #48 in Beaverton, Oregon.
Dr. Raymond L. Vick came to Harlandale as assistant superintendent on June 13, 1988 from the University of Houston. He was appointed interim superintendent the day after Dr. Katz resigned and became the superintendent on August 16, 1993.
During the 1993-94 school year, the Harlandale Vocation Education Department's name was changed to Career and Technology Education Department. It offered the following specific units at the high school level: cooperative education, career investigation, consumer and homemaking education, management skills and business education. The middle school level offered career investigation, life management skills and business education units.
Harlandale's Chapter 1 Parent Education Center opened March 16, 1994. This program is federally funded through the Texas Education Agency with Chapter 1 funds. The center is designed to involve the total family in the educational process. The educators in the Harlandale ISD believe that parent, school and community working together can create successful students.
Dr. Vick retired as superintendent on April 25, 1994. Dr. Pablo Perez was approved by the Board of Education as interim superintendent on May 16, 1994. He served until August 22, 1994.
On October 16, 2000, a new school was named the Jewel C. Wietzel Center in honor of Harlandale's first Special Education Teacher. A center to serve the district's visual, auditory and multi-handicapped population first formed in 1977.
In the fall of 2004, Stonewall Flanders opened a state-of-the-art campus to more than 700 students.
Today, the Harlandale Independent School District serves about 15,100 students with two high schools, four middle schools, 13 elementary schools, a facility for special needs and two alternative campuses. It also employs about 2,100 people. The district has come a long way from its beginnings as a one-room, one-teacher, rural school. The credit, however, for more than 100 years of educating our children in Harlandale ISD goes to the parents, educators and citizens of this community.