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School History


Mr. Finis Foster CollinsCollins Garden Elementary School located at 167 Harriman Place was named in honor of Mr. Finis Foster Collins who donated the land to the school system, in 1908.  This area was considered a tourist attraction, at that time, because it consisted of productive irrigated truck farms owned by Mr. Collins.  It was not, however, until 1914, that a red brick elementary school consisting of eight large and two small classrooms, and a principal's office was built on part of this land.
The first principal was Mr. J. A. Starnes, and Miss Alice Wimberly was the assistant principal.  Since the school was not completed in September, the two above named, and six teachers taught in a church building on Walton Avenue, until the second term in 1915.  In February 1919, Mr. T. Guy Rogers became the new principal of Collins Garden School.
In 1922, there were 780 students and 17 teachers.  By the fall of 1923, four rooms had been added, and in 1924 another frame building was erected to serve as a cafeteria.
In 1927, Miss Eileen Saunders was transferred, as principal, to Collins Garden School.  During the summer of 1927, four more rooms were added to the west wing, making a total of 19 rooms with 951 students.  There was a continuation of half day sessions with 21 teachers.
With the purchase of a block of land, 10 classrooms, a combination auditorium-cafeteria, a teacher's lounge, and a clinic were opened.  Now, the school consisted of 28 classrooms, 31 teachers and 1203 students.  However, half-day sessions were still being held.
In October 1956, a new cafeteria-auditorium, and a teacher's dining room were added to Collins Garden School.  Then, the old cafeteria was converted into two classrooms, and a clinic, and a bookroom.
In June 1954, Miss Eileen Saunders retired as principal, and Mrs. Zula Hale Evans became principal.  In May 1963 Mrs. Evans retired to be succeeded by Mr. Paul A Rode.
In 1964, the grounds were re-landscaped, the interior of the building was freshly painted, and the exterior brick was also repainted.  New fluorescent lighting was installed in the office and clinic, in 1965.
A Special Education Class was organized in 1965, and in January 1966, of the same school year, preschool classes for five year old children were begun.  The United States Office of Education financed this program through the Texas Education Agency.
In September 1966, Mrs. Wilma L. Fischer was appointed the new principal.
With the continuance of the Special Education Class, a Multilevel Class was organized in September 1966, to promote a special reading program.
We began to receive federal money for equipment and library books.  In the school year 1965-66 Collins Garden had a total of 950 books in classroom libraries -- or about one library book per student.  By 1972-73 through the diligent efforts of our librarians, Mrs. Matheus and Mrs. Dison and library secretary Mrs. Ivie, we had 7 books per child which were modern, fun books that the students could read and enjoy.
In 1974-75, Mrs. Fischer drew plans and started a Media Center.  Audio visual equipment was bought along with amassing hundreds of film strips, transparencies, tapes, and talking library books.
Classrooms were brought up to date with new acoustical ceilings and floor tiles.  New fluorescent lighting and base plugs were installed throughout the entire building.  This really allowed for changes in teaching methods since audio-visual equipment could be used extensively -- listening stations, speed reading machines, film loops, film strips, and overhead projectors.
We were all very proud of our principal, Mrs. Fischer when she was presented one of the highest awards and honor -- The American Educators Award -- in 1970, for her leadership role in developing our school's program of self-responsibility in the American way.  This winning attitude helped us to do well -- win music awards, spelling awards, science awards, City Patrol trophies and plaques in 1960, 1973, 1974 and city, state, and national honors in the Junior American Citizenship Awards programs each year.
Mr. Noe L. Camunez served as principal during 1974-1976. He became ill and died without completing his 1975-1976 school year.  The next principal assigned was Mr. Walter Howard III, who served as principal during 1976-1982.  He left to join the Northeast Independent School District as an administrator.  Mr. Jesse Sandoz, Jr. succeeded Mr. Howard for one year, 1982-1983.  Mrs. Lucinda Morales served as principal during 1983-1984.



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