NISD opens schools with lots of history behind them

October 19, 2012

Allen Elementary School was re-dedicated with a new name. Lackland City Elementary School was renamed for long-time principal Jerry D. Allen, who retired in May after four decades in education.  His relentless passion for improving the lives of not just students but also their families and the entire community made him one of the most beloved principals in NISD.

From 1871 to 1939, three one-room school houses built by local residents and called Los Reyes educated children living in the Helotes area. Once again, there is a school named Los Reyes Elementary School, and the rich heritage and legacy of this area will long be recognized.

Los Reyes Elementary School joins the 100-plus schools in the Northside School District. It was built with funding from the 2007 voter-approved bond issue, which built a dozen new schools to accommodate enrollment growth.

Pictures from each dedication ceremony can be viewed by clicking on the slide show links.

Allen Elementary School (slideshow)

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Throughout his four decades in education, Jerry Dean Allen put thousands of students on the path to success because he never wavered from his belief that achievement was possible for everyone, no matter their ethnic or socio-economic background.

His relentless passion for improving the lives of not just students but also their families and the entire community have made him one of the most beloved principals in Northside ISD history.

Allen grew up in north Texas as the son of a school superintendent, and was familiar with the world of education and the high expectations that came with it. His two older sisters became teachers, and it was no surprise when Allen decided he, too, wanted to enter the profession.

He started his career in Fort Worth and joined Northside ISD in 1975 as a teacher at Mary Hull Elementary School. He moved on to Locke Hill Elementary School, where he was named Teacher of the Year, and was appointed Principal of Glenn Elementary School in 1980. He had been serving as Principal of Colonies North Elementary School for four years when he decided he needed a new challenge.

When Allen took over as Principal of Lackland City Elementary School in 1986, the west side campus was struggling. Test scores, attendance, and parental involvement were poor, at best.

Allen took a multi-pronged approach to school improvement.

He implemented innovative, research-based programs that improved both learning and instruction and that ultimately garnered national media attention. He hired a social worker to address the basic needs of students and their families and established academic family nights and parenting classes. He worked to build unity and partnerships within the entire Lackland City community, reaching out to homeowners associations and neighborhood businesses and churches.

And he made sure he hired compassionate teachers. He could teach a teacher to teach, he always said, but he couldn’t teach them to have heart.

Over time, test scores, attendance, and parental involvement started to climb. From 2000 until Allen’s retirement in 2011, Lackland City was rated either Recognized or Exemplary by the Texas Education Agency.

During Allen’s tenure, Lackland City earned the distinction of being a “90-90-90 school,” meaning 90 percent of students were minorities, 90 percent of students were classified as economically disadvantaged, and passing rates on standardized tests were 90 percent or higher.

In May 2012, a year after Allen retired, the Northside ISD Board of Trustees voted to rename Lackland City Elementary after the man who spent 25 years transforming it from one of the lowest-performing schools in the District to one of the highest.

Allen and his wife Lupita, also a retired NISD teacher, enjoy reading, gardening, and spending time with their four children and four grandchildren.

 

Los Reyes Elementary School (slideshow)

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Helotes, Texas once again is home to a school named Los Reyes.

From 1871 to 1939, three one-room school houses built by local residents and called Los Reyes educated children living in the Helotes area.

Los Reyes #1 was the first school in the Helotes area and was built in 1871 on the property of Lorenzo Morales, who served as a Los Reyes trustee for 42 years. The school, located off Bandera Road about four miles north of Scenic Loop Road, was named for the nearby Los Reyes Creek, meaning “the kings” in Spanish.

Los Reyes #1 was replaced in 1882 with a one-room limestone structure built on land donated by Frank Madla (grandfather of the late state Sen. Frank Madla), located about two miles from the intersection of Bandera and Scenic Loop roads.

According to a former Los Reyes #2 teacher, Armin Elmendorf, the school was barely large enough to hold 20 students, and average attendance was about six to eight students ranging in age from 7 to 22. Henry T. Brauchle, a pillar of the Helotes community and an NISD namesake, taught at Los Reyes #2 from 1902 to 1906.

Los Reyes #3, along with a teacher’s cottage, were built in 1912, also on Madla property, but much closer to Bandera Road. The school’s location was more convenient to students, who either walked two to three miles to school or rode a horse, donkey, or pony.

Los Reyes #3 was constructed out of wood and was considered a more modern structure than previous Los Reyes schools. Though it didn’t have indoor plumbing or electricity (at least initially), it did have a water well, separate outhouses for boys and girls, chalk boards, and a wood-burning heater.

In 1939, school trustees decided to merge Los Reyes #3 with Helotes School, then located on Leslie Road. Both schools were moved to a parcel of land donated by Kate and James Riggs, and a third classroom was built to join the two schools together. Today, it’s known as Helotes Elementary School and is still located on Riggs Road.

Both Los Reyes and Helotes School have places of honor in NISD history as two of the 12 pioneer schools that consolidated together to form Northside ISD in 1949.

Now, Los Reyes Elementary School, located about a mile from where Los Reyes #3 was originally built, also has a place in Northside history, as the District’s 71st elementary school.

But much more than a name binds the early Los Reyes schools with the new Los Reyes Elementary School. Several current Los Reyes students are descendants of the pioneers who donated property, built the one-room school houses, and served as trustees of the early Los Reyes schools.  

Sources: Los Reyes School: 1871-1939 researched by Juanita “Janie” Madla and Helotes: Where the Texas Hill Country Begins by Cynthia Leal Massey