by Cynthia Ladson
Education in San Antonio can be traced back as far as the establishment of the city’s first missions. The first education institution, a mission-based college, was established around 1683 with the purpose of overseeing existing missions and establishing new missions. In 1798, unsuccessful attempts were made to establish more traditional schools for boys. Then in 1851, seven Ursuline nuns from New Orleans and Galveston founded Ursuline Academy, a boarding school located on what today is the Southwest School of Art.
In 1854, the Texas Legislature enacted laws providing for the foundation of local school districts, thus making public education a reality in the state. Today a number of schools, both public and private, are rooted deep in history.
- Central Catholic High School. Founded in 1852, Central Catholic was the city’s first all-boys school. Today, the school provides education to young men from all parts of the city.
- St. Mary’s Hall. Initially established as a boarding and day school for young women in 1879, today the school is a private, co-ed, college preparatory school dedicated to academic excellence from the Montessori and kindergarten programs through grade 12.
- Incarnate Word High School. Since 1881, the high school has been preparing young women in grades nine through 12 to be responsible and productive citizens.
- San Antonio Academy. Situated in historic Monte Vista, the academy celebrates its125th anniversary this year. Today, the academy has one of the few all-boy elementary school programs across the country. The academy serves grades Pre-K through the eighth grade.
- TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas. The school was established as the West Texas School for Boys in 1893 and is the oldest Episcopal school in the Southwest.
- San Antonio School District. Established in 1899, the district continues to make significant changes to the face of public schools. Today, the district is the only one to offer magnet programs at all of the traditional high schools.
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School. The school, which is situated in Selma, opened in 1901 with an initial enrollment of 40 children. Today, students score in the top 10 percent on national achievement tests, and perform more than 2,500 hours of community service annually.
- St. Anthony Catholic School. The Sisters of Divine Providence were asked to establish an elementary school in the northern suburbs of San Antonio in 1907; the result was St. Anthony School. Today, the school has an enrollment of 400 students.
- Alamo Heights Independent School District. In 1909, in a small, one-room wooden frame building, the residents of Alamo Heights established what would become Alamo Heights Independent School District. Today, AHISD consists of Howard Early Childhood Center, two elementary schools, a junior school and one high school.
- St. Philip of Jesus Catholic School. The school opened its doors to 50 students in 1914 as a parish Catholic elementary school. Today, the school provides for Prekinder 3 to 8th grade.
- St. Leo Catholic School. Situated near the heart of San Antonio, just south of downtown, St. Leo has served the South Side community since 1920.
- St. Cecilia Catholic School. St. Cecilia first opened its doors in 1921 as an elementary parish school. Today, the student body of 200 are primarily minorities from across the San Antonio community.
- St. Gerard Catholic High School. The school has been in existence sine 1927. Today, it offers a small class size to maximize success.
- Little Flower Catholic School. The school began in 1926 with two makeshift classrooms inside the parish church. Today, the school continues to serve students throughout the city.
- St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles School. Established in 1926, the school offers education programs from Early Childhood through the 8th grade. It also offers an after-school program.
- Mount Sacred Heart School. Mount Sacred Heart opened a one-room school in 1929. In 1973, Mount Sacred Heart introduced what remains the only Catholic Montessori program in the city.