Two elementaries start new traditions and transitions

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Mansfield school district christened a school that won’t actually be in existence for at least four years and one that has been around for more than a century.

On Sunday, the district officially opened Judy K. Miller Elementary at 403 N. Holland Road, which will be used as a temporary home for J.L. Boren Elementary for the next 15 months, then Glenn Harmon Elementary and then Charlotte Anderson Elementary while those schools are being torn down and rebuilt as part the $198.5 million bond package approved by voters in November 2011. Judy K. Miller Elementary is tentatively scheduled to open as its own school in the fall of 2017, if construction goes as planned on the three other schools.

The same afternoon the district dedicated the new campus of Tarver-Rendon Elementary at 6065 Retta Mansfield Road. Tarver-Rendon moves from 12350 Rendon Road, where it had been located since 1971. The original Rendon school was constructed in 1911. Other schools followed that were expanded, torn down or burned and rebuilt.

Both new schools were welcomed with tears and joy Sunday afternoon.

“It’s so awesome,” said Miller, who worked for the Mansfield district for 37 years as a teacher, coach, principal and administrator. “It’s better than an Academy Award or a Nobel Peace Prize. It gives you recognition. I always told my teachers that teaching is a thankless job until 20 years down the road.”

School board president Beth Light pointed out that it is fitting that Judy K. Miller Elementary will serve as a transition school, since Miller affected so many students.

“Not only is it going to impact the neighborhood kids, but kids across the district,” Light said.

After starting her career as a teacher and coach, Miller became principal of Erma Nash Elementary, following the retirement of Glenn Harmon. Later, she became the head of personnel for the district.

“I wanted Mansfield to be the place every good teacher wanted to be and I wanted the best for our kids,” she said.

The new red-brick, 83,834-square-foot school has 36 classrooms, two computer labs, a large library and clinic, six keyless entries, secure vestibule and 24 security cameras.

Like Judy K. Miller Elementary, the new Tarver-Rendon followed the district’s prototype for two-story elementaries. Miller and Tarver-Rendon are the first two schools in the district that are geothermal heated and cooled.

The 84,455-square-foot Tarver-Rendon, though, has its own Hill Country appeal with white stone interior and exterior accents and wagon wheels anchored in front.

“I walked up that grand stairway and I felt just like Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Titanic,’” said Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas. “This is the most beautiful stairway ever.”

Principal Jamie Norwood was more direct.

“I believe it’s the most beautiful school in Texas, if not the United States,” Norwood told the parents, staff and community members who crowded into the cafeteria and overflowed into the hall outside.

From the time the first Rendon school was built, it has been the “nucleus of the community,” Norwood said, acknowledging the crowd.

“It’s been a long trek,” she said. “It was a little difficult for some of our staff to let go.

“Rendon remains much as it was 100 years ago,” she said, “a rural community with hard-working families who want the best for their children.”

Moving a century of tradition and sorting through decades of supplies was no easy task, Norwood admitted.

“It’s been a really hard summer,” she said. “It’s like when you have a new baby. You’re so tired but so joyous.”

Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM

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