History of HSES
A Detailed History of HSES
The Right Reverend John E. Hines had a vision for a mission in the Memorial area of Houston, west of Strey Lane. That vision became a reality in 1958 when Bishop Hines officiated at the mission’s first service, held at Bunker Hill School, on October 19, 1958. Of the twenty-six persons present, nineteen signed a petition to organize the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and to build a church on ten acres, owned by the Diocese of Texas, located at Perthshire Road and Tallowood.
The chapel became a mission in 1959 and the mission became a parish in 1960. Sunday worship services were held at Bunker Hill Elementary School and later at Frostwood Elementary School. Visiting clergy served the congregation until January 3, 1960, when The Reverend Hubert C. Palmer became Priest-in-charge.
In 1961 ground was broken for the first buildings at the permanent site. These included the parish hall, offices and classrooms. These three buildings were completed in 1962 and the parish hall served as the sanctuary. This was also the year when Holy Spirit Episcopal School opened. A committee appointed by The Reverend Hubert Palmer, became the first teachers when the school opened in September 1962 with eighty-nine students, ages three, four, and five. This original committee was composed of Mrs. Alice Jean Winters, President of the Women of the Church, Mrs. Jan Leach, church-school consultant, Mrs. Jaye Heydet, church-school teacher, and Mrs. Hester Currens, church-school teacher. The Reverend Hubert Palmer acted as both Rector of the Church and director of the School.
Mrs. Jan Leach became the first preschool coordinator, and in 1965, Mrs. Maurine Alfrey was appointed the first full-time coordinator and remained in that position until 1985. The elementary school was started in 1975. Mrs. Jan Leach then became the full-time elementary coordinator. She held this position until 1985.
In 1983 the Palmer wing was dedicated to its founding priest. This wing housed the elementary school and the library. Ten new classrooms were then added. In her 1991 thirtieth anniversary speech, Mrs. Leach said that the aim of the school was “to meet the challenge of the children by providing them an opportunity to grow in all ways: socially, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually under the guidance of Christian teachers who loved them.”
The founding Directors, Mrs. Jan Leach and Mrs. Maurine Alfrey, both retired in 1985, and Mrs. Jeanne Tiemann Stillwell, a teacher at the school, was named the first Principal and served from 1985-1990. The Reverend Melvin K. Gray succeeded Fr. Palmer as Rector of The Church of the Holy Spirit, becoming the second rector in September, 1997 and serving 14 years until December, 2001. From 1990-1995, Mrs. Ann Decker was principal. From 1996-2000, The Reverend C. Rodney Smith, Associate Rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit, became the first Headmaster of the school.
The 1996-1997 school year brought the addition of the Child Enrichment Center (infant care through age three) and the addition of the Middle School, beginning August, 1997, and graduating its first 8th grade class in 2000. On November 10, 1996, there was a groundbreaking for the fulfillment of the Phase I building program of a gymnasium, two kitchens, fourteen new classrooms (including middle school), increased parking, and renovation of the parish hall. The new buildings were completed in 1997. Three new playgrounds and an athletic field were also added, which certainly makes our 10 acre campus look very different from the founding years.
In 1999, Mrs. Carolyn Trozzo was named as the first Assistant Head of School and served in that position until she became the Interim Head in the year 2000 and then named Head of School. In 2001, Mrs. Trozzo chaired the school’s ten-year re-accredidation with the Southwest Association of Episcopal Schools and spearheaded the school’s application to the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Award. The school received the 2000 Blue ribbon award in the spring of 2001. Holy Spirit was the only Episcopal School in the USA to be named a Blue Ribbon School in that year.
The Reverend David F. K. Puckett became the rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in 2001. Father Puckett served as Rector of both the school and church and is Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Holy Spirit Episcopal School.
In 2002, the school celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding with a chapel service led by Father Puckett, followed by a student program in the gymnasium that featured a living history of Holy Spirit. Over 100 students were involved. Also in attendance were founders Richard and Jan Leach, Alice Jean and Gardner Winters, Mrs. Maurine Alfrey, along with former principals, Jeanne Stillwell and Ann Decker who were honored. Founders and former teachers were also recognized with a reception following the program.
Currently, Holy Spirit Episcopal School has over seventy faculty and staff members and a student body of approximately 270 students in grades Pre-K through 8th. Throughout the past several years, the curriculum has changed and adapted to meet the needs of today's children, new programs have been added and faculty and administration have changed. However, what has not changed is that Holy Spirit Episcopal School remains committed to academic excellence within the Christian traditions of the Episcopal Church.
Holy Spirit is a growing, dynamic community. It reflects the energy and growth of the surrounding geographic area. The variety and diversity of its school and church programs match the variety and diversity of its members. Nevertheless, in all of this we are constantly reminded that as a school of the church we “...are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2.29