New Texas Elementary Named for Freed Slave, School Founder

DEL VALLE, Texas — More than 125 years after Newton Isaac Collins Sr. first established a school in the area now occupied by the Del Valle Independent School District (DVISD), district leaders have named its newest elementary in his honor. Together with community members and members of the Collins family, DVISD broke ground on the future Newton Collins Elementary School on Aug. 6. The school will be DVISD’s ninth elementary school and is slated for completion in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

The 99,000-square-foot facility was designed by the Austin, Texas office of O’Connell Robertson, which also provided master planning, MEP engineering and interior design services for the project. Bartlett Cocke of Austin is the project’s construction manager-at-risk. Datum Engineers, also of Austin, is serving as the project’s structural engineer while Combs Consulting Group of San Antonio is providing data, communications and security services. Locally based Coleman & Associates will serve as the project’s landscape architect.

Upon completion, the Newton Isaac Collins Sr. Elementary School will offer an 800-student classroom capacity, with a core (cafeteria, gym and library) capacity of 1,000 students, according to a statement by O’Connell Robertson. The design will provide a flexible and adaptable 21st century learning environment, with three classroom “neighborhoods” surrounding a central library that forms the heart of the campus. These neighborhoods will be organized by grade level with classrooms located primarily along the school’s exterior walls. An assortment of common spaces will be distributed around the shared core interior space to support collaboration and project-based learning. Science areas and computer stations will be integrated into the commons spaces. Transparent building materials will allow for the learning environment to extend beyond the classroom.

Collins Sr. — a freed slave who eventually became a carpenter and landowner — was known for his many contributions to the community, including the establishment of a school for Black students. Naming the school for Collins Sr. will honor the rich history of the Collins family as well as DVISD’s mission as “a fearless education leader that binds a growing and progressive community,” according to a statement by O’Connell Robertson President Amy Jones.

“We are excited to be working with DVISD and the rest of the design and construction team to set a new standard for collaborative success on this project,” Jones added.