Museum and History



Before the time of structured, organized public school education, classes were held in rented building space. The conditions for teaching and learning were poor. The construction of the Grammar School in 1889 sought to solve these fundamental building problems. The original Grammar School, also known as Washington Park School, was condemed and remodeled several times. Upon its completion in 1947, the new school was renamed for Annie S. Putegnat, the first grade teacher who later became the school’s principal.


The first high school building in Brownsville was Brownsville High School built in 1916. This new school was considered one of the best that money could buy with the latest equipment and furniture. In 1927-28, an additional building for Brownsville High School/Junior College was built between the existing Brownsville High School and the Junior High School, now known as Clearwater Elementary. It later became Central Junior High School when Brownsville High School moved to a new location.


Theresa Clearwater was a pioneer in Brownsville public education. She earned the first local certificate to teach school in 1872. As Brownsville built schools, Theresa Clearwater was a presence, teaching at the Grammer School, the West Brownsville School, and the Fourth Ward School. Like the woman it is named for, Clearwater Elementary has served many roles. Built in 1921-22, the school was first utilized as a junior high school. It was later annexed to Brownsville High School in 1955 before becoming an elementary school in 1967.


1916 was a busy year for Brownsville school construction. The second of three schools to be built that year was the West Brownsville School. This school would later be named for Brownsville teacher Emaline B. Russell. Records show that Mrs. Russell, though already an experienced teacher, received a county certificate to teach in 1912, four years before West Brownsville School opened.


Four rooms formed the classes at the Fourth Ward School, the third public school constructed in Brownsville in 1916. Five years later, two classrooms, an office, and a book room were added to the original structure. In 1956, the name of the school was changed to honor the longtime BISD teacher and principal, Josephine Webb, who taught in the public schools for over five decades.


Some BISD buildings were built by others. El Jardin Elementary was an independent school until it was consolidated by Brownsville in 1952. While part of the El Jardin School District, the building housed grades first - high school. This school is named for the area in East Brownsville where it is located.


In 1925, BISD issued bonds in the amount of $75,000, the sum of which would be used in constructing and providing equipment for a six room school building. This new school, built on West St. Charles, was originally known as the First Ward School. Lucille Skinner served Brownsville children in a dual role. She was a principal and classroom teacher at the same time. In 1958, the First Ward School was renamed for Lucille Skinner.


Named for an area, and not any one person, Victoria Heights Elementary was originally constructed in 1921-22. A six-room building, this school in the Victoria Addition soon became known as the Victoria Ward School. Victoria Heights is the area in Brownsville in which the school is located.


Many of the original Brownsville school buildings were built small, especially by today’s standards. A six room school would not serve the educational needs of students in the 21st century. In 1929, six rooms were fine for the new East Brownsville Ward School. The facility, located at 22nd and Harrison Streets, served students from Victoria Addition and the Tomates Bend Section. It is now known as Reynaldo Longoria Elementary, named for the former principal after his death.


Not all Brownsville schools are named for well known citizens or areas of the city. Resaca Elementary was opened in 1931 and named for the bodies of water often associated with Brownsville. An actual resaca was located east of the school until 1965. At that time, the Texas Department of Highways filled in the resaca as part of the construction of U.S. Expressway 77-83.


Americans were working their way out of the Great Depression in 1931. In Brownsville, the plan to put our country back to work included the construction of another public school building. The Los Ebanos School was the result. This school was later named Gertrude Sharp Elementary in 1963 upon retirement of the school’s longtime principal.


Villa Nueva Elementary is a small community school located west of Brownsville. It was originally located in Villa Nueva until 1933 when the school was completely destroyed by a hurricane. The school was rebuilt in 1935 in San Pedro but retained its original Villa Nueva name. In 1969, the school was annexed by Brownsville ISD.


In January of 1949, plans for a new school building for Victoria Gardens received approval from the Board of Trustees. Classes were held at the new Canales school in the Fall of 1949. In January of 1950, a bond issue was passed providing funding to build a two-winged addition to the existing structure. The school was named after J.T. Canales, a lawyer from Corpus Christi who moved to Brownsville in 1904. In 1905, he was elected to the Texas State Legislature and served several terms. Lucinda B. Schiwetz served as the principal of Canales from 1949-1963.


Joseph Franklin Cummings provided leadership to the community from 1888 to 1889, at which time he organized Brownsville's first public school system. On Labor Day, 1951, Cummings Junior High, named in his honor, opened as one of the most modern public school buildings in Texas. A long, low school building, the 30-room facility featured a Harmon lighting system that utilized natural light to reduce glare, wide terrazo-tiled corridors, gas overhead blower-type heating system, and a "cafetorium" which combined the cafeteria and auditorium. Notably, Cummings featured "greenboards" to replace the old time "blackboards."


Windows were a luxury, not a necessity, when Cromack Elementary opened for classes in the Fall of 1953. The new school was close enough to completion. The roof and floor were in place. The windows and glass were not. Under the direction of Principal Tom Keller, students attended classes in open-air rooms for two months until construction was completed. Thankfully, it was a dry fall and rain did not ruin the school's interior. Cromack Elementary draws its name from a well-known Brownsville family rather than an individual person.


It was back to school for 8,000 BISD students the year that R. L. Martin Elementary opened. Originally known as Ebony Heights Elementary, it had the same problem as Cromack Elementary; it was not complete at the start of school. Bob Jackson served as the first principal. The name Ebony Heights was changed to Martin in the late 1970's to honor longtime coach and principal, Robert L. Martin.


Faulk Junior High School opened in 1957 at the same time as Stell Junior High. The two schools not only shared the same opening date, they were also exact mirror images of each other. Faulk was named for Brownsville's longtime civic leader, Harry Lee Faulk. The school's first principal was Jesse Benton.


An inspiration to a generation of teachers, Mattye Gentry Stell was the former principal of Brownsville Junior High and Cummings Junior High. In the Fall of 1957, Brownsville opened two junior high schools with identical floor plans. One was named Faulk and the other was named Mattye Gentry Stell Junior High School. More than 40 years later, Ms. Stell's devotion to education remains recognized in the school that bears her name.


No sea battles were ever fought at Garden Park Elementary School. So why is the U.S. Navy recognized as part of the school's early history? In 1960, when the school opened its doors in the Las Prietas area of Brownsville, the school consisted of surplus portable buildings purchased from the Kingsville Naval Base. These portables were later replaced with a new, modern facility in 1983. Nell Palmer, a well-known Brownsville teacher, was named Garden Park's first principal.


Brownsville High School students were in for a change when they returned to classes after a four-day Easter holiday in 1967. Waiting for the 2,500 students was a new campus located on Price Road. The new building featured multiple pods which enclosed 5 acres of land. The new high school campus quickly filled up, at one time accommodating over 5,000 students who attended school in split sessions. Arnulfo L. Oliveira was the principal. In 1974, the school’s name was changed from Brownsville High School to Hanna High School in honor of Brownsville administrator Homer Hanna. Daniel Breeden became principal of the newly named Hanna High School.


Superintendent James T. Ogg moved quickly in the Fall of 1965 to meet a pressing need for Brownsville students. Ogg filled out an application for a migrant school for grades 1-8 in October of that year. One month later, the migrant school named for longtime Brownsville teacher Josephine Castañeda was in session in portable buildings. Ruben Gallegos was the school's first principal. Students followed an extended schedule in order to complete classes before migrating. The original campus, composed totally of portable buildings, was rebuilt using funds from the $100 million school bond passed in 1997.


Located in the Southmost area of Brownsville, Del Castillo Elementary opened its doors in the Fall of 1974. The Board of Trustees unanimously decided to name the new school after Rosita del Castillo, a well-known Brownsville teacher and former principal of Webb Elementary. Del Castillo was one of three Brownsville public schools, along with Perez Elementary and Porter High School, completed in 1974. Manfredo del Castillo, Rosita's nephew, was the school's first principal.


Gladys Porter High School, Brownsville's second public high school, opened its doors in 1974. It was built to alleviate the overcrowded conditions which had existed at Brownsville High School for three years. Even before the construction began, the school's colors and mascot were chosen at a Board Meeting on October 2, 1973. The school was named for Gladys Sams Porter, the daughter of Earl C. Sams who was the first president of the J. C. Penney retail chain. Ms. Porter was a well-known Brownsville civic leader and philanthropist. Tony Ortiz was selected as Porter's first principal.


In 1974, the elementary school population was growing even faster than the district could build schools. No sooner had BISD opened Perez Elementary when Superintendent James T. Ogg made a surprising discovery. New apartment houses close to the new school meant the student enrollment was beyond capacity, even as the doors opened for the first day of school. Construction of additional classrooms began immediately. The campus was named for Felipe Perez who had worked for many years in the BISD Maintenance Department. Virginia Garcia was selected as Perez's first principal.


Pace High School was part of the second generation of Brownsville high schools. Opening in the mid-70’s with Porter High School, Pace was part of the break from tradition in Brownsville secondary education. No longer would all high school students attend Brownsville High School, later known as Hanna High School. James Pace served six terms during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s as a BISD Board Member. He was also known for his tireless community involvement. Edward Manzano was the school’s first principal. Pace was the first BISD campus to provide breakfast at school to aid learning.


Palm Grove Elementary was not a new school built by BISD. Instead, Trustees annexed the school from the Cameron County educational system after numerous complaints that the school was deteriorating. Superintendent James Ogg described the school’s conditions as deporable and promised that renovations would be made. After a summer’s worth of work, the superintendent’s new vision became reality. BISD improvements included a bright yellow paint job, air conditioning, water fountains, a nurse’s station, and a paved parking lot. There was also a new principal’s office, first occupied by Vic Avila.


Egly Elementary is not named for one person. Instead the school is named for the Egly family of Brownsville, a family with a history of educating local students dating back to 1888. At the time of the school’s groundbreaking in 1976, nine different members of the Egly family had held various positions within the district. Joseph L. Egly told those present that day that not only was the recognition a great honor, but that he was more proud of his family’s achievements than of his own. Hesiquio Perez served as the school’s first principal.


It’s a rare individual who has multiple schools named in his honor. Such is the legacy of U.S. District Judge Reynaldo G. Garza. Not only does the Brownsville elementary campus located in the Southmost area bear his name, a McAllen ISD campus is also named for the first Hispanic Federal Judge. President John F. Kennedy bestowed the lifetime appointement to the federal bench during his administration. Judge Garza served on the BISD Board of Trustees from 1941 to 1944. The Brownsville school named for Judge Garza opened its doors in 1977. Carlos Alvarado was the school’s first principal.


1979 was the first year of operation for Land O’Lakes Intermediate School, named for its location on Land O’Lakes Drive. Sylvia L. Perez was the school’s first principal. The name of the school was soon changed to recognize the former President of Texas Southmost College, Dr. Arnulfo L. Oliveira. The Intermediate Regional School for the Deaf, located on the Oliveira campus, serves not only Brownsville students, but children from Cameron and Willacy Counties.


The growth of Brownsville is certainly reflected by the growth of Vermillion Road Elementary School. Built in 1979 and opened in 1980, the school was originally constructed with plans to hold 700 students. Over the years, the student population has almost doubled. Angel Martinez, Jr. was the school’s first principal. Vermillion Road Elementary School takes its name from its street location, Vermillion Road.


Like many BISD schools, Lincoln Park School opened with a different name. In this case, Lincoln Park went through two names before becoming the school it is today. Originally known as the Brownsville Gateway School, then the Brownsville Opportunity School, the campus began by serving special needs students. At one time, Ron Schraer performed double duty as the school’s principal and the director of BISD Special Services. The school’s focus on students with special needs diminished in the late ‘80’s as students were mainstreamed to other schools within the district.


Marylyn Burns Elementary School was built in 1983 as relief for classroom loads at Martin and Clearwater Elementaries. Martin had swelled to 900 more students than the school was designed to handle. Marylyn Burns taught English for more than 20 years at Brownsville and Hanna High Schools, until her death in 1981. She was also a former drum major for the Brownsville High School Golden Eagle Band. When Principal Raul Vasquez opened the doors to Burns Elementary, 750 students experienced something new within BISD. The school had the first air-conditioned classrooms in the district.


Gonzalez Elementary School, named for popular bus driver Mariano Gonzalez, opened in the Fall of 1986. BISD honored Gonzalez with a school bearing his name because of nearly 30 years of devoted service transporting students to and from school and special events. Neida Ruth Soto served as the first principal for the school located at 4350 Coffeport Road. Gonzalez opened at the same time as Morningside Elementary. Both schools were hailed for the bright interior color scheme which was believed to enhance students’ awareness through visual stimulation.


Morningside Elementary was one of two new BISD campuses to open in the Fall of 1986. Located in southeast Brownsville, Morningside takes its name from the street it calls home. Oscar Cantu, Sr. opened the new school as Morningside’s first principal. The construction of the school was unique at the time because of the use of building quadrants which would allow for flexible future expansion. The school was also built with computer-controlled air-conditioning, ceiling fans, and interior and exterior windows to create the most effective cross ventilation.


There were no books in the library or stripes on the parking lot on the opening day of operation for Perkins Middle School in 1987. The school’s first principal, Hector Hernandez, was ready in spite of the temporary setbacks to open his new school to an anxious group of students. Perkins Middle School was named for Louise C. Perkins, a 41-year veteran of public education in Brownsville. Ms. Perkins also served as Dean of Women and Registrar at Brownsville Junior College, now known as UT-Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.


Rivera High School honors Simón Rivera, Jr., the principal at Central Intermediate School from 1959 to 1977. Rivera also served as a BISD Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools. Two years after his death in 1986, BISD’s fourth high school opened its doors with Rivera’s name on the building. The opening of this new high school came right down to the final hours. BISD crews worked until 2:00AM the day the school was to open, to put furniture in place and beat the opening bell. Bill Gutierrez was the school’s first principal.


Southmost Elementary, built to relieve overcrowding at nearby Garza Elementary, was immediately overcrowded itself. Built in 1988, the school features individual buildings for each grade level, joined by a covered walkway. The first day of school was memorable for Principal Nancy Mejia. The building was not ready for occupancy. Staff and students took it all in stride, opening classes on schedule.


Vela Middle School first opened in August of 1990 as Paredes Line Ninth Grade School. The school remained a ninth grade campus for two years before becoming a middle school in August, 1992. In January of 1992, the school was officially named after the Honorable Filemon B. Vela, a U.S. District Court Judge. Judge Vela continued to take an active role in the education of Vela’s students until his death in 2004. The first principal was Johnny I. Pineda.


Yturria Elementary is named for two people, husband and wife Frank and Mary Yturria. Located in the northwest section of Brownsville, this school opened in 1992. Longtime Brownsville residents, the Yturria Family has roots in the community, ranching, banking, and business, dating back to the 1800’s. Alma G. Garcia was the school’s first principal.


Lopez High School, opened in 1993, is named after the Lopez family of Brownsville who owns and operate independent supermarkets in South Texas. The family matriarch, Tomasa A. Lopez, established a family legacy of community service that continues to this day. Deanie Ervin was Lopez’s first principal.


Besteiro Middle School, opened in 1994, is named for Raul A. Besteiro, Jr. a well known educator who served as Superintendent of Brownsville schools for many years. While Superintendent, “Mr. B” supervised the construction of ten BISD schools as well as the current Administration Building. After leaving the school district, Mr. Besteiro continued to serve his community as Director of the Port of Brownsville. The middle school shares a library and school grounds with Aiken Elementary. The school’s first principal was Felix Mejia, Jr.


Aiken Elementary, home of the “All Stars,” opened in August of 1996. It is named for Bruce Tansill Aiken, an educator with a 38-year career in BISD and a noted historian who successfully preserved Brownsville history through his writings, stories, and vignettes. Aiken is buried among many notable heroes of Texas at the Texas State Cemetary in Austin. The Aiken campus shares school grounds and a library with Besteiro Middle School. This is appropriate since Bruce Aiken and Raul Besteiro formed a well-known educational alliance for many years. Sam Garcia was Aiken’s first principal.


Lucio Middle School, located on 14 acres near the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport, opened in 1997. It is named for State Senator Eddie A. Lucio, Jr. who attended Brownsville schools and coached at two district middle schools before pursuing public office. Throughout his distinguished political career, Senator Lucio has kept his focus on the needs of his community, especially Brownsville’s children. Pat Holden was Lucio’s first principal.


Hubert R. Hudson Elementary is located in the rapidly developing northern part of Brownsville. The school, opened in 1998, is named after two men, Hubert R. Hudson, Sr., and his son Hubert R. Hudson, Jr. Both Hudsons exuded a passion for life, reflected in multiple business pursuits, dedication to improving the world through political, charitable, religious, and educational institutions and attention to family. The school sits on what was once part of the Hudson farm which was donated by the family. Oscar Cantu, Sr. was the school’s first principal.


In 1999, Benavides Elementary opened its doors. It is named after A.X. Benavides who spent 37 years as an educator in service to Brownsville’s children. He is credited with being the first bilingual education director in the district in 1971. At that time, he was one of the country’s first to hold a district level bilingual position. He was also the first director of pre-school and headstart programs and is credited with starting the district’s migrant program. Jill Williams was the school’s first principal.


In 2001, Brownsville ISD dedicated its 31st elementary to Dr. Americo Paredes who served as a role model, outspoken advocate for social justice, and inspiration for Hispanics of every generation. Paredes spent a lifetime writing and singing about a subject close to his heart: the border of the United States and Mexico. He was a journalist, educator, poet, author, anthropologist, and singer during a life that included more than 30 years teaching at the University of Texas at Austin. Honored on both sides of the border, Paredes was still writing, singing and passing on his border folklore at the time of his death in 1999, at the age of 83. Jay Harris was the school’s first principal.


Gallegos Elementary, opened in 2001, is named for Dr. Ruben Gallegos, a child of migrant workers, who went on to open Brownsville’s Castañeda Elementary, the first school designed exclusively for migrant students. Gallegos served stints in Dallas ISD eventually returning to the Rio Grande Valley as the Superintendent of Edinburg ISD and as a professor at the University of Texas Brownsville where he prepared future school administrators. In 1993, Dr. Gallegos became the executive director of International Educational Services, Inc. in Los Fresnos, assisting children who arrive illegally into the United States. Lucy Green was the school’s first principal.


Doors opened to Champion Elementary students in 2001. The school was named for A. A. Champion, a noted local historian, rancher, and public servant. Champion pursued a lifetime of knowledge regarding the history of the area in which he lived and became a nationally recognized historical source for the South Texas and Northern Mexico areas. It was Champion’s research which provided the U.S. Park Service with the actual location of the Palo Alto Battlefield, now a National Historical Site in Cameron County. Frequently described as a “true gentleman,” A.A. Champion also served his community as a U.S. Customs officer, Brownsville City Commissioner, and member of the Texas Southmost Board of Trustees. Bea Garcia was the school’s first principal.


Garcia Middle School, opened in 2002, is named for Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, the President of the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College from 1992 until August 2014. Garcia has carved an impressive national reputation with her success as a leader and educator. Locally, she is known for her role in developing the partnership between UTB, an upper level university, and TSC, a community college. Garcia also earned recognition as the first Mexican-American woman to become president of a U.S. college or university. The school’s first principal was Dr. Rebecca V. Rendon.


In 2004, the district dedicated its 10th middle school to Charles Stillman, a successful South Texas businessman who founded Brownsville as well as the neighboring town of Roma. Born in 1810, Stillman was a man of extraordinary vision, self discipline, and hard work who had a great love for the Rio Grande area. Before his death in 1875, he donated land for many public offerings including the site of Annie S. Putegnat Elementary, the old City Cemetery, and Washington Park. Maricela Zarate was the school’s first principal.


Ortiz Elementary, opened in 2004, is named for U.S. Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz who has represented South Texans as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1982. Ortiz, the child of a migrant family, served in the Army and held law enforcement positions in Nueces County for 17 years prior to his election as a legislator. The Congressman’s Washington speciality has been both defense and border policy, having made a reputation as a fair-minded, bipartisan advocate in the spirit of service to America and South Texas. Sandra Lopez was the school’s first principal.


Brownsville ISD took a significant step forward in the delivery of alternative education services with the opening of the Brownsville Academic Center (BAC) in August 2005. Located in a complex of portable buildings on Morrison Road, BAC replaced the district’s Alternative Education Center and Teen Learning Community. BAC’s program addresses the academic needs of secondary students in an environment that stresses the importance of self-discipline and respect. Sharon Moore who was serving as the BISD Administrator for Accelerated Programs was the first administrator for the Brownsville Academic Center.


The Brownville Learning Academy (BLA) was founded in the Fall of 2005 as a school of choice for secondary students experiencing difficulties in a traditional school setting. The BLA program features individualized instruction and counseling in a compentency-based learning system. BLA originally opened at the historic Webb campus. The school has since been expanded to include a portion of the Clearwater campus. Julie Trevino was the first principal for the Brownsville Learning Academy.


In 2006, students began attending classes at the district’s 33rd elementary school which was named for beloved educator Ben L. Brite. Brite moved to Brownsville in 1932 and began teaching and coaching at Brownsville High School. In 1940, he was named principal of Brownsville High School. One year later, he assumed the role of Superintendent of Brownsville schools, a post he held until 1945. While Superintendent, Brite added additional responsibilities as Dean, and later, as President of Brownsville Junior College. A second stint as Superintendent took place from 1959-1962. Brite’s influence and legacy were so profound that a groundswell of support from local citizens convinced the Board of Trustees to name a school for him. Frank Ortiz was Brite’s first principal.


BISD and UTB/TSC opened the Brownsville Early College High School (BECHS) in August 2008 at the Clearwater Campus. BECHS is a limited enrollment school designed to enable students to achieve two years of college credit, tuition free, at the same time they are earning a high school diploma. Additionally, BECHS is designed to boost graduation rates and increase the number of high school students prepared for post-secondary success. Roni Rentfro was the first BECHS principal.


Peña Elementary, opened in 2009, is named for Raquel Peña, a longtime BISD educator. Ms. Peña first taught at East Brownsville Elementary School (Longoria) prior to joining the U.S. Navy in 1944. Upon her return to Brownsville, she taught at Putegnat Elementary until her retirement in 1975. Peña is fondly remembered as a strong disciplinarian with a deep devotion to her students, her school and her community. Many of her former students, now community leaders, credit her teaching with their success. Ernestina Treviño was named the first principal of Peña Elementary.


Keller Elementary is named for Thomas W. Keller, a longtime BISD administrator. Keller, a Brownsville native, served as principal of three district elementary schools, Cromack, Resaca, and Victoria Heights. For 9 years, he was the beloved principal of Stell Middle School. Keller eventually moved into district administration where he worked closely with Superintendent Raul A. Besteiro, Jr. to construct new schools and classrooms for a rapidly growing school district. Keller retired as Deputy Superintendent in 1990. Carlos Garza was named the first principal of Keller Elementary.


Pullam Elementary bears the name of Mittie Pullam, a beloved teacher, who moved to Brownsville in 1947 during the days of desegregation. She helped found Fredrick Douglass School on E. Fronton Street to serve local black children. Ms. Pullam taught every grade level from 1st-6th and also served as the principal. This highly successful school was incorporated into Skinner Elementary in the 1960’s. Ms. Pullam continued inspiring students at Skinner until her retirement in 1975. Her devotion to students touched countless generations and inspired a grassroots campaign to name a school in her honor. Jay Harris served as the first principal of Pullam Elementary.


Manzano Middle School is named for Edward Manzano, Jr., a veteran BISD educator who served as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal of Cummings Junior High School. In 1975, Manzano was named the first principal of Pace High School, a position he held until 1983. Manzano Middle School was opened to students in August 2010. Built with funds from the 2006 school bond, Manzano is located on W. Alton Gloor Boulevard across from the new Keller Elementary School. Norma J. Torres was the first principal.


Construction of Brownsville’s new Veterans Memorial High School was completed ahead of schedule. The Rio Grande Valley’s largest high school officially opened to freshmen and sophomores for the very first time in August 2010. Veterans Memorial is located on U.S. Military Highway across from the River Bend Resort. It was built with funds from the 2006 school bond. Acacia Ameel was the first principal.


Breeden Elementary School, opened in August 2012, is named for Daniel Breeden, the longest-serving principal of Hanna High School. Breeden’s career with Brownsville ISD began in 1957 as a math and social studies teacher at Cummings Junior High School. He went on to serve as associate principal at Brownsville High School under the late Dr. Arnulfo Oliveira. In 1974, Breeden became the principal of the newly named Hanna High School. He remained at Hanna until his retirement in 1986 after completing 29 years of service to the district. Breeden was known and respected by thousands of former students and colleagues as an outstanding educator as well as a man of patience, understanding and consideration. Dolores C. Emerson served as the first principal of Breeden Elementary.

Golden Eagle Band Archive

Patricia C. Perez
Museum Coordinator
708 Palm Blvd., Room # 116
Brownsville, Texas 78520
Phone: (956) 698-0003

What's so special about the year 1915?

It was a time before cell phones, personal computers, and color televisions. It was a time before American involvement in Vietnam, Korea, and World Wars I and II.

In 1915, the American Medical Association began to admit women to its membership. Passenger car sales reached more than 1.5 million. The Boston Red Sox won baseball’s World Series. Legendary entertainer Frank Sinatra was born.

It was also the birth of the Brownsville Independent School District. This year marks the 100th anniversary of BISD. Prior to 1915, control of the Brownsville school system was with city government. But, in March of 1915, the Texas House of Representatives and Senate both approved a measure transferring control of the city’s public education to the newly created BISD.

BISD’s Board of Trustees met for the first time on March 25, 1915. Several of the trustees, including Board President Dr. J. L. Wortman, were continuing service to Brownsville schools that had begun while the city was still in control. Lizzie M. Barbour was in her third year as Superintendent of Schools. The newly created Brownsville public school system consisted of 25 square miles, two city and six suburban schools and a student population of almost 1,000 when classes opened for the 1915-16 year.

The schools included Brownsville High School, City Grammar School, the Blalack School, the Las Matanzas School, the Media Luna School, the Nopalita School, the Linerro School, and the West Brownsville School. Curriculum changes included the creation of a department of domestic economy and an improved science department. A complete skeleton was now part of the science education.

The addition of more students and schools has not changed the original mission of the Brownsville Independent School District. BISD celebrates this 100th anniversary still believing in the need for a quality education for all our community's children.