Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The History Of South Marshall Elementary School

By Richard Fluker (2006)

South Marshall School came into existence as a result of united efforts of the patrons. The children in this section of town could not attend either West End School (Stephen F. Austin) or East End School (Sam Houston) because of the long distance to walk. Mrs. Kathryn Ruffin and Mrs. Robert Boone were instrumental in arousing patrons to draft a petition to present to the City Commissioners.

This petition action culminated in a $60,000 bond issue in January 1916, for the purpose of building two new elementary schools: Van Zandt and South Marshall. In February the school board allocated $12,000 of the money for South Marshall School, to be located at the corner of Meadow and Pecan streets. Chesley Adams, former school superintendent, sold a portion of his land to the school board and donated the remainder for the school site. Construction of the building began on May 15. The school opened on December 11, 1916, with an enrollment of 87.

As a result of community gorwth, it became necessary in 1945 to add four classrooms, clinic, bookroom, restrooms, teachers' lounge, principal's office and cafeteria.

Crowding became acute in 1953, and a portable classroom was built on the east side of the campus. Enrollment increased again in 1954, and the clinic and part of the office were used as a classroom until a second portable could be moved in.

In 1962, the construction of nine new classrooms was completed -- four extending east from the southh end of the building and five from the north end. The old two-story structure was removed. Two classrooms and a library were added beneth the elevated south win in 1979.

In the fall of 1987, the north win was expanded to include six classrooms and restrooms for kindergarten and first grade and several portable were removed. Funds came fro mthe 1986 bond issue, which provided $5.5 milllion for additions to five schools and facilities for adminstration, food service, maintenance and transportation. In the fall of 1990, South Marshall became the first MISD elementary school to have a gymnasium.

With MISD's reorganization in 1981, South Marshall School began serving students in grades K-4. until then, it had been a K-6 school. Head Start classes were taught at the school from fall 1999 to spring 2002.

Update: South Marshall Elementary School became the district's STEM Academy in 2014-2015, serving STEM students in grades K-4 and being renamed South Marshall STEM Academy. The STEM Academy will be moved to the current Sam Houston Middle School campus, which is being renovated as part of the Legacy 2017 building program. The current facility at South Marshall will be sold, rented, demolished or repurposed for further district use beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The History Of J.H. Moore Elementary School

By Richard Fluker (2006)

In 1902, J.H. Moore secured permission from the school board to organize an elementary school in the northwest part of Marshall. Classes were held on the lower floor of the Odd Fellows Hall on West Grand Avenue.

A brick building, known as Park Elementary, opened January 5, 1903. Mr. Moore remained as principal until 1925, when he was transferred to Hillside School, and was succeeded by L.E. Thompson. Under Mr. Thompson, a new auditorium, two additional classrooms and four more rooms were added to the main building.

Upon Mr. Thompson's retirement in 1950, P.E. Moon was transferred from Pemberton High School to serve as principal at Park. He remained until it closed in 1954, at which time students were transferred to a new campus.

During the administration of Superintendent V.H. Hackney, an expansion program for Marshall Public Schools began. As a result, in 1953, a new site was purchased at Norwood and Cooper Streets, and a school building was erected at a cost of $215,298. The name J.H. Moore Elementary was selected because of Mr. Moore's humanitarian acts during 48 years as an educator. The new school opened on September 12, 1954.

Mr. Moon served as principal until July 31, 1970. He was succeeded by James Collins, who remained until January 31, 1972, when he resigned to run for public office. James E. Taylor was appointed principal effective February 1, 1972, and served until the end of the 1974-1975 school year. At that time Orlette took over as the school's principal. She retired in 1989 and was succeeded by Mark Bosold, who served until 1995. With Bosold's departure, David Simpson, a former P.E. teacher at the school, became the new principal.

During the 1976-77 school year, J.H. Moore was remodeled. The entire school was air-conditioned, carpeted and painted. In 1980, five East Texas Baptist College students built a playground at a cost of $8, using barrels, tires and wood.

In 1982, the school opened a quarter-mile-long nature trail on adjacent wooded land loaned to MISD. During the same year, the environmental science committee and PTA gave the campus a facelift.

Construction of eight new classrooms began in April 1985, and continued through the summer. When classes began on September 3, teachers in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade, a speech therapist, and a diagnostician moved into the addition, finished at a cost of $374,462. Grounds were landscaped with flower beds and landscaping timbers, and the teachers' parking lot was paved.

A gymnasium separate from the main building opened in November 1992. A new office and library complex opened at the beginning of school in the fall of 1995.

With MISD's reorganization in 1981, Moore School began serving students in grades K-4. In 1989, the kindergarten class was moved to Washington Early Childhood Center, but by 1994, Moore once again enrolled kindergarten students.

Update: Under the Legacy 2017 building program, the current facility at J.H. Moore Elementary will be sold, rented, demolished or repurposed for further district use beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Profile Of A School Bus Driver

Marshall ISD's Transportation Department is an invaluable, integral part of our district's operations. School bus drivers are the first face many of our students see every day, and the last school memory from each day every day. We appreciate the hard work and commitment to safety by all of our MISD bus drivers, one of whom was featured in this article published in the Marshall News Messenger back in the mid-1980s.

by Debra Olson
Marshall News Messenger

She rises at 5:30 each weekday morning, climbs aboard No. 29 and begins her morning route. Like many jobs, hers demands promptness and responsibility, but it also demands a genuine care for the safety and educational well-being of hundreds of Marshall school children.

Mary Burns, originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, a mother of three and grandmother of one, is a bus driver for the Marshall Independent School District. She has been driving school buses for the past four years, and has been with MISD for the past two years.

"I love my job, and I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world," said Ms. Burns, before pulling out on her afternoon run to the four schools on her route.

Although riding a school bus may seem dull to some, it is not to Ms. Burns, whose bus is usually kept washed and waxed.

"I like to see my baby look nice," she said, smiling. "People think I'm crazy because it's awfully big to wax -- but it makes it look nice."

A wash and wax job takes three to four hours with two people working on it, but the finished product is worth it to Ms. Burns.

To spark a few smiles from riders and splash a bit of color on the inside front portion of her bus, she has decorated the walls with an array of stickers. Some are pictures of animals and some bear messages, such as "Do not bite," "Walking on Water," "I Love You," and "Peace."

A clump of brightly-colored rabbits' feet, small stuffed animals, and other knock-knacks dangle from the rear view mirror. "Most of the stickers I got from the kids," she said as she pulled out of the district's transportation area where all the buses are parked. "I've got a great big (stuffed) monkey at home in my daughter's room, it was way too big to keep on the bus."

Not only has she gained stickers and stuffed animals, but during her two-year tenure in Marshall she has gained friendships as well.

"I've got one boy, he's real sweet and doesn't give me a bit of trouble," she said. "He puts up my (bus) windows for me."

The first stop of the afternoon was Marshall High School. The ride included a couple of rituals, typical of most bus drivers -- completely stopping at all railroad tracks and giving a friendly wave to all other bus drivers who pass by.

As she neared Marshall High School, she added, "I've already prepared my kids."

Within minutes after the bell, the bus quickly began to fill with students -- some quiet and shy and some talkative and outgoing. Almost all, though, seemed to possess a respect for their driver, calling her by name and doing what she asked.

"Every now and then when I'm not looking, they might throw something, but only when I'm not looking."

The second stop was Marshall Junior High School where the majority of the high schoolers would depart and a host of younger students would board.

"At the junior high, the girls come on first," said Ms. Burns. "That's my rule. They kept pushing and shoving, and I didn't like it."

When the junior high students boarded, most had a shy streak that the high schoolers did not. "Hello Miss Burns," echoed from almost every mouth.

"The bigger kids used to give the little one a hard time, so now I save the first four seats for the little ones," she said. Her "little ones" come from Sam Houston Middle School and David Crockett Elementary, which would be the next stops.

"Who's got that radio on back there? Turn it off." The owner obeyed the driver. If a student uses foul language on the bus, she tells them "to please use a different choice of words, or we'll talk to the principal."

"I've written a few up, but I don't do it unless I absolutely have to. If they act up, we cannot send them off the bus, because we are responsible for their lives."

When she arrived at David Crockett at about 4 p.m., the students from Sam Houston moved back as usual.

"Sometimes the kids make it stressful, but I still love my job," she said at the end of the trip.

The Marshall Independent School District transports more than 3,000 students a day, and the combined mileage of its buses, all of which meet the required safety standards, totals about half a million per year, according to J.R. Perkins, transportation supervisor for the district.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The History Of Robert E. Lee Elementary School

By Richard Fluker (2006)

North Marshall School, the first school on the north side of town, opened on September 3, 1887, as a one-teacher school in a two-room frame structure on Summit Street. The school was moved to a small building across the street from the old Summit Church during the 1889-90 term. In the summer of 1890, the first structure erected in Marshall for a free state-supported school was built -- a one-room house in the 800 block of Summit Street. Another room was added in 1891.

The school continued to grow until four grades were taught in 1894. In June 1895, the East and North Marshall schools were consolidated, and a three-room schoolhouse was built at the corner of Beauregard and Lee, streets near the Texas and Pacific shops. The building was destroyed by fire on February 10, 1900.

The school was then housed in the old Leach residence, located at the corner of Texas and Summit streets, until a new brick building for grades 1-6 opened for classes November 9, 1902, on Calloway Street. The school was known as North Marshall School until 1925, when it was named for the Confederate general.

The first remodeling of the original brick building occurred during the 1938-39 school year. A new wing with a cafeteria, auditorium, principal's office and teacher's lounge was ready for use in late 1950. Remodeling of the old auditorium provided two additional classrooms in 1951. The northwest adjoining lot was purchased for use as a playground in 1953. A central library was ready for use in September 1960. The two-story 14-room section of the present building was constructed adjacent to the cafeteria win in 1968 at a cost of $270,408 and the old building was torn down.

In June 1961 the boundaries of the Lee and Van Zandt Elementary School zones were dissolved. As a result of the merger, Lee was known for about three years as Lee-Van Zandt. Van Zandt was renovated in 1968 for use as administrative offices. The original part of the building was razed in October 1981. The cafeteria addition was later traded to East Texas Baptist University for land in east Marshall.

Eight classrooms, two computer labs and a teacher's workroom were added to Lee in 1988. funds came from the 1986 bond issue, which provided $5.5 million for additions to five schools and facilities for administration, food service, maintenance and transportation. The kitchen also was expanded in 1988. A separate gymnasium was built in the fall of 1991.

With MISD's reorganization in 1981, Lee School began serving students in grades K-4. In 1989, the kindergarten class was moved to Washington Early Childhood Center but was later reinstated.

Robert E. Lee, being the oldest school in Marshall, was the first with several innovations. Among these were the first PTA, which was organized in 1906, the first school gymnasium, the first drinking fountain for students and the first piano.

In 2001-02 Lee was designated "Recognized" by Texas Education Agency for performance on the state-mandated assessment exam. The achievement was repeated in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

Update: Under the Legacy 2017 building program, the current facility at Robert E. Lee Elementary will be sold, rented, demolished or repurposed for further district use beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

For Jamie Sexson, It's One Day At A Time

The public school is part of every community, large and small, all across the nation. The public school is a picture of our community and paints a history that will forever be etched in the lives of its citizens and alumni. Public schools bring communities together, and the relationship between a nine-year old boy fighting for his life and the 1988 Marshall Maverick football team will forever be etched in the history of Marshall High School and Marshall, Texas. Today's edition of The Red Brick Wall: Building A Legacy, takes a look back at the story of Jamie Sexson, who found his friends for life in the Maverick football team. The Mavericks, who reached out and became some of Jamie's closest friends, well, they found a new hero. This article appeared in the Dec. 8, 1988 edition of the Marshall News Messenger.

by Kim Weeks
News Messenger


The doctors said 9-year-old James Sexson should have already died, but Jamie's mother, Debbie, said members of the Maverick football team have helped give him some more time.

James, diagnosed as having leukemia at age 3, was "adopted" by the football team in October.

"I think him being adopted by the team gave him an extra time to live," Mrs. Sexson said. "It gave him something to look forward to."

James, affectionately called Jamie, had been in remission for a few months, but in August of this year, he got sick again and the doctors told Mrs. Sexson that there were no more treatments available.

"They told us to let him do what he wanted to do because they didn't expect him to live very long after that," she said.

Mrs. Sexson said they put Jamie back in school for about a month, but he had to be taken out after he got an infection.

"He hasn't been in school since October," she said. "He's had several bad days and several bouts where we've thought that was going to be it, and he's still alive."

Jamie was officially adopted during the pep rally before the Tyler game, and he went with the team to the game, practiced on the field with them and went out for the coin toss.

"He did everything the football team did," she said. "That night they took him out to eat with them and he got to go home on the bus. To him that was the grandest thing."

After that Jamie went to a few practices and games, until he couldn't go any more.

"The last game he went to was Tyler Lee. He went for a coin toss with the boys and he just got sick on the field. Brent Truelove brought him out and he started vomiting blood and it scared everybody."

Now, two or three nights a week, a few members of the team come over to see Jamie.

"Coach (Dennis) Parker told me that he never told the boys to come over. It was something they did on their own," she said.

Jamie, she said, was not the only person touched by his relationship with the team.

"Jamie has been used greatly (by God). There's just no telling how many lives he's touched since he's been sick. The football players will tell you, he's done a lot for them. Brent Truelove told me, 'you'll never know how much he's done for me,'" she said. "Coach Parker told me he's made them realize there's more to life than football, and life can be taken at any age."

Mrs. Sexson said Jamie rarely gets out of bed now.

"He sleeps most all day," she said. "But when the boys come in...he says, 'My team's here.'"

"They were real good about treating him as a normal kid," she said. "He wasn't a sick kid, he wasn't a cancer kid."

She said when the team came over after a game, the first thing Jamie said was, "You guys did real good. I'm proud of you."

"You can see these big old boys, I mean some of these guys are huge, they just tear up. They respect Jamie and that means a lot."

Mrs. Sexson said she has not worked in nine weeks, but stays home to to be with Jamie. She said they used to go for rides in the car and play games, but now they stay home and watch television together when Jamie isn't sleeping.

Mrs. Sexson said the doctors are not saying anything anymore.

"He's going to die. He knows he's going to die. We've talked about it and he understands. It's a waiting game. Some days he'll be down and we'll thing this is it, we're getting close. Then he'll get a burst of energy and he'll be up again. But for the last two weeks he's been pretty sick.

"We talk about dying. We've talked about going to heaven and not being afraid. What he's afraid of is leaving me. He knows it will be a better life. He knows he won't have the disease anymore. He's real brave."

She said Jamie helped her plan his funeral and his only special requests were that they play "Have You Been Washed In Blood" and that the football team be there.

"I worry about them (the team) after Jamie dies," she said. "I think they are going to take it real hard."

When the team comes over, they don't let Jamie dwell on death, Mrs. Sexson said.

"One day Odell (Beckham) talked about how they run all day and they were sore from practice. Jamie said, 'You know, I can't even walk to the bathroom and back without being tired.' They said, 'That's okay.' They are real good about keeping him going."

"I think accepting him the way he is has made a big difference in Jamie. He's kept going. I think he's lived his life to the fullest. He's done a lot of things that kids his age don't do. We take each day as it comes and we're thankful for that day. And when tomorrow comes, and we hope that it does, if it doesn't, we know he's had a good life."

*Note: Jamie lost his battle with cancer shortly after this article, but he won the hearts of his Maverick football friends, and the community they shared together. His story, along with his friendship with the Mavs, won national acclaim when East Texas broadcaster David Smoak further chronicled his final days and his relationship with his Maverick friends in "Jamie's Season," in 1988.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Working With Kids, One Way Or The Other

Today's entry in "The Red Brick Wall: Building A Legacy" looks back at the service of Mrs. Sybill Presswood, longtime school secretary at Marshall High School who was named Volunteer of the Year in 1986 for her work with abused and neglected children. This article appeared in the Oct. 27, 1986, edition of the Marshall News Messenger.


MARSHALL JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL secretary Sybill Presswood loves young people so much that when she is not surrounded by teenagers at work, she voluntarily spends her time with a group of area children who need attention.

In fact, Mrs. Presswood was recently honored by the Department of Human Services as their volunteer of the year for her work with Child Protective Services.

Mrs. Presswood, who has worked for the Marshall Independent School District for 16 years, said she became involved in helping abused and neglected children several years ago while working at Price T. Young School.

"I really didn't know what was involved, but the longer I stayed on the board, the more I became involved. I've been on the board for 10 years now," she said.

Child Protective Services in Harrison County tries to make sure foster children have as normal a life as any other children, Mrs. Presswood said. Foster parents receive money for the state for basic necessities and some funds from the county commissioners for extras, but Child Protective Services tries to provide things for which the state and county do not pay.

"We help raise money for their school clothes and go outside for Christmas donations. We also help pay doctor and hospital bills when they aren't covered by insurance. We try to give each of the children a birthday allowance and try to give the foster children the same privileges as other children," said Mrs. Presswood.

Mrs. Presswood is president and volunteer coordinator for CPS, and she said volunteers are always needed. One thing the volunteers do is sit with foster children in the hospital so they will not be alone.

"They get so scared when they have to be in the hospital alone," Mrs. Presswood said.

"The most rewarding thing is the direct contact with the children. We show them some love and teach them to trust. It's so rewarding to see those children blossom and start trusting people. Seeing a child go from a little frightened thing and start giving out love is really specials," she said.

Currently, CPS is raising money for the foster children's Christmas. Mrs. Presswood said various organizations and even classes at school will sponsor a child, either by buying gifts or giving money to CPS.


Friday, December 2, 2016

The History Of David Crockett Elementary School

By Richard Fluker (2006)

David Crockett School, 700 Jasper Drive, had its beginning early in 1952 when the Board of Education and the Superintendent realized Sam Houston school could no longer serve the growing population of the east part of Marshall. After careful study of the area, the present site was selected.

In August 1953, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Bailey donated 8.89 acres of land for a school, provided that the building be completed by August 1958 and that city water service be extended to include the Jasper Heights area. The Board accepted this donation of the property and immediately began planning for the building.

A bid from Eckert-Fair Construction Company was accepted on September 15, 1954, and construction began shortly thereafter. The final cost of the building was $239,782.

In March 1955, the City Council of the Parent-Teacher Association submitted the name David Crockett to the Board of Education. The name was accepted.

The doors of David Crockett School opened for classes in September 1955 to 204 students, 10 teachers and the principal. The school had 12 classrooms, library, cafetorium, clinic, teacher's lounge and office.

Three additions have been made to the original building. In 1968, the south wing of the original building was extended to include six additional classrooms. Funds came from a $4,264,000 bond election in 1962. In 1972, the north wing of the original building was extended to include seven classrooms and two restrooms. The entire building was completely air conditioned during the school year of 1980-81. In the fall of 1987, a new library, 10 classrooms, special education room, computer room, teacher workroom, storeroom and office complex were added. Funds from the 1986 bond issue, which provided $5.5 million for additions to five schools and facilities for administration, food service, maintenance and transportation. A gymnasium separate from the main building opened in 1993.

With MISD's reorganization in 1981, Crockett School began serving students in grades K-4. Until then, it had been a K-6 school. In 1982, the Commissioner of Education named Crockett a partnership school and it began participating in the Accelerated Schools Program.

Crockett was first designated as a "Recognized" school by the Texas Education Agency in 2003-04 and repeated the accomplishment in 2004-05.

Update: Under the Legacy 2017 building program, a new K-5 elementary school with a capacity of 750 students is under construction at the David Crockett Elementary site. Upon completion of the new facility, the current building will be demolished.