Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by Exploring Campus Namesakes

Hispanic Heritage Month officially starts on Sun., Sept. 15, and this week, we’re taking a look at some of the many HISD campuses that are named for distinguished Hispanic men and women.

The district has 21 schools that recognize the contributions of Hispanic civic and community leaders, who range from educators and civil servants to local restaurateurs, newscasters, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, and even Nobel Prize-winners.

Take a look below to learn more:

Benavídez ES— This school, which opened in 1992, was named in honor of Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavídez (1935–1998), a Green Beret in the U.S. Army and native Texan who survived against incredible odds in Vietnam. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1981.


Garcia ES — Marcario Garcia was a graduate of Sam Houston HS and a soldier in the U.S. Army who fought in World War II. During the course of his military service, Garcia won two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars with Valor, and a Bronze Oak Leaf. He also won the nation’s highest award for valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, which was presented to him in 1945 by President Harry Truman. By the time Garcia retired, he had attained the rank of command sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank possible. The school named for him opened in October 1992.

Mistral ECC — Opened in the fall of 2005, this facility is one of several built by HISD to serve Pre-K students only. It is named after a celebrated Chilean poet and educator who was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1945). Gabriela Mistral was the pen name of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga (1889–1957), a writer and teacher who created educational programs for the poor under the Mexican Ministry of Education. She also taught at Vassar, Columbia, Middlebury College, and University of Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez ES — One of 10 schools built with Rebuild 2002 funds, this facility was named after Sylvan Rodríguez, the late KHOU-TV newsman who served as a city and community role model for more than 25 years. The school, located on almost 10 acres in southwest Houston, relieved overcrowded conditions at neighboring Roy Benavídez, Braeburn, Leroy Cunningham, and Samuel Red elementary schools. It opened during the first week of 2002.


Carrillo ES — Edna M. Carrillo Elementary is located on the site of the former Parker Memorial Methodist Church, previously known as the Sims Estate. Built in 1993, the school was named after Edna Moreno Carrillo, one of Houston’s most innovative educators. She pioneered the “open concept” model classroom and served as principal of Benjamin Franklin ES from 1972 until her death in 1975.

Chavez HS — César Estrada Chávez was the founder and president of the United Farm Workers of America, a union for migrant farm workers. The school named after him opened in August 2000.

Crespo ES — Manuel Crespo (1903–1989) was a native of Spain who moved to America following the death of his father when he was 16. He settled in Houston in 1923 and became the city’s first Hispanic police officer in 1940. Crespo also cofounded Chapter #60 of the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) and ran a funeral home on Navigation Street for more than 50 years. The school named for him opened on the city’s southeast side in January 1992.

Davila ES — Named for Jaime Dávila, the son of immigrant parents from Mexico, the school opened in August 1990, not far from the site on which Dávila was born in 1959. Dávila was a product of HISD and the first student from Houston’s East End to receive a full scholarship to Harvard University.

DeAnda ES — This school, which opened in the fall of 2011, was designed to provide relief for overcrowded conditions at nearby Mitchell ES. It was named for the late Judge James DeAnda, Houston native and graduate of Davis HS. DeAnda was one of the first Mexican-American attorneys to argue before the Supreme Court and the second Mexican American to serve as a federal judge.

DeZavala ES — Manuel Lorenzo Justiniano de Zavala (1789–1836) was a distinguished Mexican statesman and diplomat who was given the responsibility of colonizing Texas. De Zavala became so devoted to his new homeland that he led the struggle for its independence and was elected interim vice president of the new republic. The school that honors his memory was constructed in 1929.

Farias ECC — Opened in August 2005, this facility was named for Armandina Farias, an educator who worked for HISD for more than 35 years. She began her career in 1960 at Manuel De Zavala ES and served as the principal of both Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson elementary schools. Farias died while still at Jefferson. She was inducted into the National Hall of Fame of Hispanic Women in Leadership in 1990.

Gallegos ES — This school, which opened in fall 1992, was named for the late husband of former HISD Board Member Olga Gallegos. Mario Martínez Gallegos was a firefighter with the Houston Fire Department for 21 years. He died of cancer in 1990 after retiring as a captain. Gallegos also served in the Navy during World War II and was a commander in the American Foreign Legion.

Herrera ES — John J. Herrera was the 21st national president of the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC). The son of a San Antonio policeman, he was descended from one of the 14 original families to settle that city. The school named for him was built in 1992.

Laurenzo ECC — One of the first two facilities built by HISD to serve Pre-K students exclusively, this school opened in fall 2004. It is named for the late Ninfa Rodríguez Laurenzo, a much-loved Houston restaurateur and community leader who recognized the importance of education in child development early on. Laurenzo opened Ninfa’s, her first Mexican-food restaurant, in 1969 in a converted warehouse on Houston’s east side. Over the next 10 years, she parlayed that restaurant’s success into a multi-million-dollar empire. The school named after her is located at 205 North Delmar, in the same neighborhood as her original restaurant. She died in June 2001.

Martinez ES — Clemente Martínez ES was named for one of the first Hispanic principals in HISD, who also served as assistant principal and district superintendent during the 1970s. The school named in his honor opened in 1994.

Martinez ES — Raul C. Martínez Elementary opened in 1994 as a relief school for Leeona Pugh Elementary and others in the area. In 1950, Martínez was inducted into the Houston Police Department, and in 1973, he became the first Hispanic constable elected in Harris County. He died in 1990.

Moreno ES — This school was named for Joe E. Moreno, a Texas state legislator who died in a tragic auto accident on May 6, 2005. The school named for him opened in August of that same year.

Ortiz ES — Daniel Ortiz was a native Houstonian whose career with HISD spanned 33 years. He went from history teacher to deputy superintendent and was voted outstanding teacher of the year for 19791980. He also founded and served as president of the Mexican American Association of School Educators. His school is one of 10 built with funds from Rebuild 2002.

Sanchez ES — George Isidoro Sánchez (1906–1972) was a national authority on bilingual education and the social problems of Hispanics in this country. He taught the history and philosophy of education at the University of Texas, where he also served as chairman of the history department in the 1950s. The school named for him opened in 1985.

Seguin ES — Seguín Elementary School was named for Juan N. Seguín, a San Antonio resident who fought against Santa Anna in 1835 during the Texas Revolution. Seguín also served as that city’s provisional mayor and survived the first part of the Alamo siege. The school, which opened in fall 2002, is one of 10 schools built with funds from Rebuild 2002.

Tijerina ES — Felix Tijerina (1905–1965) was a leading figure in Houston’s Hispanic community. He founded a chain of popular restaurants and held important positions with such organizations as League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC), Variety Boys’ Club, Rotary Club, Boys’ Harbor, and Houston Symphony Society. The school named for him was built in 1980.

To see the history behind other campuses’ namesakes, visit the Schools Histories pages.