The Episcopal Day School educates children to become compassionate, courageous, and curious citizens so that they may learn to seek knowledge, love truth and respect God and all creation.
At the Episcopal Day School, we believe in implementing a strong academic program with particular emphasis on basic academic skills. Our students are guided in their physical, mental, emotional, social, aesthetic and spiritual growth within a disciplined, stimulating and creative environment. We believe in fostering a love for learning and instilling in each child a respect for themselves and others. This is accomplished within the context of a diverse, multicultural community where each person – student, teacher, staff member, administrator – is seen and valued as a child of God.
The Episcopal Day School, an educational outreach of the Church of the Advent – Episcopal, has served the community of Brownsville, Texas since 1948. What began as a dream to provide a superior educational environment is now an institution of learning that is founded in a tradition of academic excellence and spiritual formation for all children.
The Episcopal Day School opened in 1948 with a five-year-old kindergarten class in what was known as the old rectory. Several years later it became evident that there was a need for a 1st grade. The Hubert R. Hudson family generously provided new facilities at the Church of the Advent for the Episcopal Day School and the Sunday School. During the reconstruction period, a frame house on East Levee Street was rented to accommodate the kindergarten and 1st grade classes. Upon completion of the new educational wing in 1956, the Day School kindergarten and 1st and 2nd grades moved into their new facilities. Third grade was established next and located in the church’s Youth Center. The following year a 4th grade was added and met upstairs in Mackintosh Hall (the old rectory).
As the Episcopal Day School continued to grow, so did the need for additional space. The Hudson family acquired a beautiful tract of land on North Coria Street from Dr. J.C. George, the site of the present school. Both the land and the original building were gifts of the Hudson family to the Church of the Advent. The school and library were dedicated in 1959 by the Bishop of West Texas, the Right Reverend Everett Jones. It was Estelle Custis Conklin Hoffman whose gifts of books and money made the first library a reality.
The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes moved into the new building in the fall of 1959. The first 6th grade graduation was held in May 1961. The kindergarten and 1st and 2nd grades remained at the Church of the Advent until 1974 when two new rooms were added to the Coria Street School, and grades one and two were moved there. One of these classrooms, now part of the remodeled elementary wing, was a gift from the Robert M. Duffey family as a memorial to Robert Duffey’s mother and father, Madelyn B. and Robert M. Duffey.
The next major addition to the Coria Street campus was the beautiful Chapel/multipurpose room built adjacent to the original building and completed in August of 1984. This magnificent structure, designed by L.L. Winans and James Guthrie, was a gift of the Hudson family in memory of their parents. The Chapel was named Jones Hall out of regard for Everett Jones, Retired Bishop of the Diocese of West Texas. The altar of beautiful Italian marble was given in memory of Salome McAllen Scanlan, a faithful Episcopalian and friend of the school. The beautiful stained glass cross in the foyer of the building was designated the Stewart window out of respect for J. Rufus Stewart, Rector Emeritus, Church of the Advent, Brownsville. This additional space permitted the kindergarten classes, which now included three, four, and five-year-olds, to move from the Church of the Advent into temporary quarters in the Chapel and in the original Coria Street building.
Ground was broken on May 1, 1985 for four kindergarten rooms, the first phase of the building program to provide a complete kindergarten complex at the Coria Street site. In September 1985, the three-year-olds moved into two beautiful new rooms, one given to the glory of God by the Scanlan family and the other a gift of Barbara and Ralph Weir, Jr. in memory of his parents, Mary Clifton Rowland and Ralph Leon Weir, Sr. The four-year-olds moved into their new quarters at the same time.
These rooms were provided through the gifts of some eighty families. On December 1, 1985, Bishop Stanley Hauser conducted a service of consecration for Jones Hall and the new kindergarten rooms.
Construction of the classrooms for the five-year-olds began in late summer of 1986 and they were ready for occupancy by February 1987. One of the classrooms was given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Olive Polley Reed by her family, while the other room was provided through the generosity of a number of Day School friends.
Dr. and Mrs. James Stillman provided financing for the remodeling of the exceptional library facilities, which were completed in January 1988. Located in what once was the original Chapel/ multipurpose room, the library accommodates an entire class at the same time. The Parent Booster Association participated in financing the renovation of the old Chapel. The complex now houses, in addition to the library, a resource room, and a teachers’ workroom/lounge.
In August of 1993 the two 1st grade classes moved into newly constructed rooms adjoining the kindergarten complex. The addition was blessed by the Reverend Gary Lillibridge during Episcopal Day School Week, October 1993. This new construction made it possible to utilize existing space by providing even better facilities for the 3rd grades, Spanish classes, the computer lab, and a fully equipped science laboratory.
In 1994, Karen and Sandy Ray, with the help of parent volunteers, built a trail along the Resaca. A comprehensive Nature Trail curriculum was developed for 3K – 6th grade. Students in these classes began attending “Nature Trail” on Fridays on a rotating basis. In October 1995, Phase I of a building plan which included three new classrooms and a restroom facility near the south side of the campus was completed. This addition made room for two classes of 2nd graders and one class of 3rd graders. In August of 1996, Phase II was completed which included the renovation of two classrooms near the east side of the campus. These two classrooms were reconstructed to include a new science lab and two regular classrooms. Also, simultaneously with Phase II, the Parent Booster Association (PBA) financed the construction of a storage unit added on to Jones Hall on the east side of EDS. The remodeling of the kitchen in Jones Hall was also begun.
Two enhancements have been made to our picnic area behind the school. In 1997 the Fausto Yturria family donated a barbecue pavilion in memory of their son, Shelby Theriot Yturria. This facility is used for both school and church related functions. Also, in 1998 a deck was completed as a flooring under the picnic tables, courtesy of the PBA. This deck not only aesthetically enhanced this area; but it also provided a clean, dry surface for the students during their lunch break.
Construction of our open-air gym began in the summer of 1997. The gym was dedicated by Interim Rector Rev. Scotty Innes in February 1998.
The 50th Anniversary milestone celebration began with the opening of an exhibit at the Brownsville Historical Museum on February 20, 1998. Memorabilia from the Episcopal Day School, dating back to our beginning in 1948, was shared by alumni, students, teachers, and family members. This temporary historical exhibit was enjoyed by the Brownsville community and visitors throughout the entire summer of 1998. A video was produced by Dr. Manuel Medrano and the UTB/TSC – Brownsville staff to capture the memories and promote the future of the school. This multimedia event included interviews of past and present faculty, rectors, and directors and present-day students as well as alumni. The 6th grade class of 1998, under the direction of Anne Zufelt, sang and dedicated the theme song written by Dr. Medrano in recognition of the 50th Anniversary milestone on February 20, 1998.
A Capital Campaign was started by the Episcopal Day School Board in May of 1998 to raise $695,000 to fund Phase III of the building plan. Two new classrooms, a parking lot, a library expansion, more storage areas, an administrative office, and a kitchen/workroom for the teachers were completed during the 1999-2000 school year. The construction of the Fine Arts Building, completed in October 2000, enabled the music teacher and her classes to move out of Jones Hall where music classes had been held for many years. The Fine Arts Building was given to the glory of God and in honor of Frances and Maurice Tipton by their children and grandchildren. Construction on the final phase of the building plan, the Administration Building, was completed in the fall of 2001.
In January of 2006, the Day School embarked on two additional construction projects: the building of a Spanish Complex, El Paseo Tikal, and the enclosing of the open-air gym, the Lee Kirkpatrick Field House. Both projects were completed prior to the start of the 2006-2007 school year. In August 2006, a ceremony was held at the school dedicating the Field House to the memory of Lee Kirkpatrick, a community leader who had a long relationship with Church of the Advent and the Episcopal Day School. At the same ceremony, El Paseo Tikal was dedicated and the paver walkway leading to the Field House was unveiled.
During the fall of 2008, the Butterfly Garden was planted by volunteers and was dedicated in April of 2009 by the Rev. Richard Aguilar. Also in 2009, the Natural Playscape Committee was formed under the leadership of science teacher Sandra Morfitt. The purpose of the committee is to plan natural play spaces for EDS children. Through the combined efforts of the Natural Playscape Committee, the Parent Booster Association, and several Eagle Scout candidates, a climbing structure, tricycle path, palapas, rock features and garden areas have given a natural look to the kindergarten playground. As a result of Hurricane Dolly in the summer of 2008, the shade for the lunch deck built in 1998 was weakened and was removed in 2009. In January of 2012, a new shade structure was dedicated on the elementary playground. This project was begun by the Natural Playscape Committee and was made possible by the Parent Booster Association and a grant from The American Academy of Dermatology. The shade structure serves as the elementary lunch area. In the fall of 2012, garden plots were built to enhance hands-on student learning.
During the spring of 2012 the PBA raised money to build a fence across the front of the property. The fence was started with the help of the Episcopal Day School Endowment Board. The fence project was completed in 2013, along with the construction of a 2K playground. Covered sidewalks were constructed so that children and staff could move from one side of campus to the other protected from the rain.
In 2014 the soccer field was leveled, sodded, and a sprinkler system was installed. The PBA had the outdoor basketball court resurfaced and painted. A key-hole garden was donated by Linda Scales, with an award received from the Brownsville Rotary Club as elementary teacher of the year, to teach the children about gardening and composting.
In 2015 the kinder playground was redone with resurfacing of the fall zone under the climbing equipment and planting of new grass by the Parent Booster Association (PBA). A new EDS sign was donated by our EDS Boy Scout troop that was carved out of granite for the front of the school. During the summer, the red tile walkways were replaced with non-skid tiles with funds provided by the EDS endowment board. The school was rewired for internet and intercom system and an intercom system was installed with funds provided by PBA and the school. Don Breeden, a well-known local artist, donated his artistic rendering of our unique Rio Grande Valley habitat. This artwork was made into a 10 ft. by 30 ft. mural that was placed on the outer Jones Hall wall adjacent to the Kindergarten playground.
In 2017 the awnings that cover our outdoor walkways, were repaired. The two oldest restrooms across from the library were gutted and remodeled.