History of Joel C. Harris Academy
Names of School Throughout the Years:
Joel Chandler Harris Junior School
Joel Chandler Harris Middle School
Joel Chandler Harris Academy
Rabbits then Hawks
Mr. Frank Eakley (Sept. 1923 - Dec. 1923)
Mr. Otto A. Pfeiffer (Jan. 1924 - 1940)
Mr. Merrill Bishop (1940 - 1945)
Mr. Alfred Lehmberg (1945 - 1954)
Mr. R. K. Shafer (1954-1959)
Mr. FrankL. Whitehead (1959 - 1960)
Mr. Conrad T. Anderson (1960 - 1968)
Mr. Roy Dominguez (1968 - 1969)
Mr. Maurillio V. Ortiz (1969 - 1970)
Mr. Noe Camunez (1970 - 1974)
Mrs. Lucille Herndon (1974 - 1977)
Mr. Robert Lopez (1977 - 1985)
Mrs. Anna Garza (1985 - 1992)
Mrs. Sylvia O. Sanchez (1992 - 1995)
Mr. David Williams (1995 - 1998)
Mr. Abel Candia, Jr. (1998 - 2002)
Mr. Moises Ortiz (2002 - 2009 )
Mrs. Lourdes Correa (2009 - 2013)
Dr. Carol Velazquez (2013 - Present)
2002 - Present Yearly Attendance Ranking 3rd Place (or higher)
15 Years Consecutive SAISD Golf Champions
2012 TEA Recognized Campus
2010 Sister Marie Armor (Science) Award
2003 - 2004 Peacemaker Award
2004 - 2005 SAISD Campus of the Year
Joel C. Harris Academy was named after the author Joel Chandler Harris (photo above) who is well known for his book named Uncle Remus about a rabbit named "Brer Rabbit". This book told stories about adventures this rabbit went on. Disney later adapted the "Brer Rabbit" character and some of the stories. History also tells that Joel Chandler Harris was a humorist guy.
Joel Chandler Harris Junior School, as it was originally named, was one of 7 junior/middle schools built with a 2 million dollar bond that was approved June 20, 1922. The cost of the original building was $156,784.02. The school opened with 6 classrooms.
The bond project was under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Jeremiah Rhodes. This bond project was part of the sweeping reorganization of San Antonio schools. This reorganization brought about the 5-3-3 plan. This plan excited educational circles throughout the country. The 5-3-3 plan reorganized education into 5 years of elementary school, 3 years of junior/middle school, and 3 years of senior/high school.
Joel C. Harris Junior School began operating in September 1923. However, the students attended classes at Briscoe Elementary down the street on S. Flores in the afternoons because the new building was not completed in time for the start of the 1923-1924 school year. Students and teachers began using the new school building in November 1923 under Principal Frank Eakley.
During the early 1940s under Principal Merrill Bishop the enrollment of the school grew to such an extent that temporary buildings became necessary. However, the enrollment continued to grow at such a rapid rate that San Antonio ISD established a junior school at Burbank High School. The District moved Harris's temporary buildings to Burbank along with a large number of Harris students.
During early 1950s Harris's student population became almost completely Latin American/Hispanics, which it has continued to be up to present time.
During the late 1950s under Principal R. K. Shafer, Harris's enrollment once again began to rapidly grow. However, this time SAISD did not add any temporary buildings. Instead SAISD opened a new school, James Fenimore Cooper Junior School, which relieved Harris's overcrowding.
Shortly after the opening of Cooper, Harris had its' first major renovation which added a gymnasium. The new gymnasium proved to be a very valuable addition to the school.
In 1960 under Principal Frank L. Whitehead 2 major academic changes took effect for Harris Junior School. Principal Whitehead created the Pfeiffer Chapter of the Junior Honor Society. He also organized and help draw the plans for the addition of Harris's first Elective course - Crafts which began being offered September 1960.
In 1968 Harris changed its' mascot from Harris Rabbits to the Harris Hawks.
During the early 2000s under Principals Abel Candia, Jr. and Moises Ortiz Harris Middle School had a major renovation which more than double the campus size. Highlights of this renovation included: more than 40 new or remodeled classrooms, 2 new gyms and a football/soccer field were added, a bigger cafeteria and library were built, the old gym was converted to a Fine Arts building for Band, Orchestra, Choir, and Mariachi.
These renovations at Harris cost $19 million and were funded by the 1997 bond program under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Ruben D. Olivarez. The building size was increased to 129,417 square feet.
The "new" Harris Middle School was dedicated on Saturday, October 23, 2004.
January 2016 Harris completed its' renovations that were funded by the 2010 bond program. As part of this bond program Harris received many upgrades such as new a new STEM lab, new perimeter fencing, security cameras throughout the campus, etc.
*more information coming soon*