The History of

W. T. Hanes Elementary School

W. T. Hanes Elementary School opened in 1969 and is located at 2730 Cheyenne. It is named after William Trapper Hanes who served as superintendent of Irving ISD from 1956-1969. The school opened in November 1969. Prior to the school’s opening that fall, students attended classes at Thomas Haley Elementary and Northgate Methodist Church. The school opened with over 500 students.

Hanes was a pilot school for team teaching in Irving ISD. There were 25 classrooms with 35 staff members. The first addition to the campus in 1972 was an open space area sometimes referred to as the “pod.” This circular addition provided space for 10 open classrooms with 4 glassed in areas for conferences and small groups. Half day kindergarten began in 1973. The Early Childhood for the Handicapped began in 1979. A new wing was added in 1995. Bilingual classes began in 2002.

The first principal was Joel Easter. He was followed by Dorothy Baker, John Pickens, Gay Lytal, Robyn Cohlmeyer-Wolters, and Stacy Blevins. The current principal is Ed Henderson.

W. T. Hanes was born in Commerce, Texas in 1900. He married Annie L. Jones around 1920. They had one son, William Travis Hanes, Jr.

Mr. Hanes graduated with a bachelor’s degree from East Texas State College in Commerce and with a master’s degree from Texas Tech. He also did graduate work at the University of Colorado.

Early in his career he became the superintendent in Takoka in Lynn County. Then he spent 21 years as superintendent in Cameron prior to coming to Irving to be the new superintendent in July 1956. This was a year after the teacher strike in the spring of 1955. The Texas Education Agency had placed the district’s accreditation on probation. Accreditation was restored in 1957 and the school district experienced a phenomenal growth in the mid 1950’s through the 1960’s.

Mr. Hanes led the desegregation of Irving schools, consolidated the district, and improved its academic reputation. During his tenure the school district built seven new elementary schools, one new junior high school, three new high school buildings, and a new school administration building along with some additions to existing buildings. At the end of his term in 1969, there were 22 schools, an administration building, and a school stadium.

He was active in the Rotary Club and once served as the District Governor of District 187. He was also a director of the Cameron County Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Girl Scout Council, the Texas Advisory Committee on Accreditation, and White House Conference on Education of Youth. He also chaired the State Textbook Committee. In 1963 he was awarded “The American Educator’s Medal” by the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge. Mr. Hanes died in 1979 and is buried in Commerce, TX at the Rosemound Cemetery.

Research by Rosemarie Klassen and Lea Bailey using various documents from the Irving Public Library Archives, Irving a Texas Odyssey by Joseph Rice, www.Ancestory.com and https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=55016499&ref=acom • This web page was created February 2017 for the Celebrating Irving Committee of the Irving Heritage Society in partnership with Irving Independent School District. Photos used with the permission of the Irving Archives, Irving Public Library.