Elisabet Ney Elementary
The streets of young Lake Jackson were starting to be paved in 1942, as Dow Chemical workers were beginning to move in and look for housing in this new Alden B. Dow-designed city. Along with the workers came their families, including children, who needed a school to attend. Every school has to start with a teacher, and this was no different for the first school in Lake Jackson!
The first teacher in Lake Jackson was a woman named Irene Jones. She and her husband, Raymond, had moved to Freeport from Buffalo, Texas. In 1942, a hurricane came ashore leaving 42 inches of water and silt in their Freeport home, driving them to want to move to the new neighboring town of Lake Jackson – barely beginning construction to house Dow employees.
Mrs. Irene Jones 1946 First Grade Class at
Lake Jackson Elementary
Lake Jackson Elementary School
Mrs. Jones wanted to live in one of the new duplex apartments, but was discouraged to learn there was a waiting list of over 1000 applicants. Her occupation as a teacher gave her preferential treatment and took her to the top of the list! She and her husband were fortunate to move into 123 Center Way.
In the fall of 1943, 200 students were attending school at a building located on Yaupon Street. In addition to teaching first grade, Mrs. Jones became the first principal. The City was still under construction, so there were muddy roads, and loud, noisy construction, making it difficult for the teachers to be heard, and causing recess to be held indoors.
The school grew rapidly, and necessitated using five surrounding houses, in addition to nearby churches to have makeshift classrooms to handle all the children. There were no cafeterias so students and teachers brought their lunches. However, they did have an Elementary band led by Jerry Bryan.
Some of the early teachers included Julia May (before beginning LaVelle Dress Shop), Iona Antill, Bess Brannen, Lorene Youngblood, Coach W.E. Day, and Anita Perry. In the fall of 1948, Grady Rasco became principal, and Gladys Polk became Director of Elementary Education for all of Brazosport.
It was difficult to retain teachers in the 1940’s, with many resigning when getting married or having babies.
In the early days of the school, there was a very active Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), with Mrs. S. W. Dunaway acting as the first president. Interesting items the organization purchased to assist the schools in those early days included playground equipment, record players for first and second grades, black out curtains to assist the visual aid programs, band uniforms, a public address system, a merry-go-round, stage curtains, and water fountains.
On March 20, 1951, a new twelve-room elementary building, called the Lake Jackson Primary School, was opened and acclaimed to be modern, beautiful, and functional. In 1961, Brazosport school officials renamed Lake Jackson Primary School after an important early Texan and art pioneer, Elisabet Ney.