History of Sunrise Elementary School
The Sunrise Addition was opened by Mr. J. W. Buchannan in 1924. Miss Mable B. Adams, a realtor for this addition sold land to some people who were desirous to settle in this area. As the people began to settle, the need for a school arose. With the influence of Miss Adams, Miss Dora Grieves, a property owner in this area consented to donate land for a school. The chosen site was 5408 Cottey Street. This location was part of the Village Creek District #55, Dr. A. D. Roach was County Superintendent and Mr. John Crouch, T. W. Wright, and Frank Collins were trustees.
After careful planning, the local schoolboard built a one room framed building on the east end of Cottey Street and hired as their first teacher Miss Mary Collins (Mrs. Mary McMillan). She opened the doors for instruction in September 1937 with 16 students, 10 boys and 6 girls. In order to distinguish the Village Creek School, since there were two in the district, Mrs. McMillan suggested, and the schoolboard approved, that the school should be named after "Sunrise" for the Sunrise Addition.
Sunrise School was thriving fast. A Parent Teacher Association (P.T.A.) was organized with Mrs. Mary Shaw as it's first president. The parents were thrilled over the progress of their school. Suddenly, their hearts were saddened. On April 1, 1942, the school burned. Even though their hearts were saddened, the school continued. The late Milton and Eliza Sears, owners of a dwelling called "The Chicken Garden" on Walker and Cottey Streets, made this feasible. "The Chicken Garden" was a two story frame building with two rooms downstairs and one room upstairs. The building was called the Chicken Garden because it was once a chicken farm. The building at one time had also been a road house/club. The children had stories about seeing figures upstairs looking out of the windows. They repaired this building for school use which made the community happy again.
By September 1943, the enrollment increased to 85. Another teacher, Miss Hattie Sansom was added. In 1944, Mrs. Ella Dunlavy joined the staff. Sansom and Dunlavy services at Sunrise ceased in 1945. This year the Village Creek School board purchased 1/2 half acre of land on Pinson and Walker Streets for a new school. On this site two tile brick classrooms were created. The enrollment continued to increase and Mrs. Estella Reese, Mrs. Joyce Hunter, and Mrs. Newarlee Thurman were added to the teaching staff. "The Chicken Garden" was still used to house teachers with two grades each. The other two teachers, with two grades each sheltered in the new school building. This organization continued until 1950. This year Mrs. Reese's services at Sunrise ceased. The enrollment continued to increase. Mr. Augustus Whitted Jr., Mrs. Ulma C. Wilson, and Mrs. Earlene (Alford) Allen were hired as teachers to help take care of the increased enrollment. They worked split-shifts. Mrs. Thurman and Mrs. Hunter taught grade one and three from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Wilson taught grades two and four from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. These four classes were held in "The Chicken Garden" Meanwhile Mrs. McMillan and Mr. Whitted taught grades five through eight in the new building from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. This organization continued for one year. Then, two more tile rooms were added and the seventh and eight graders were sent to Dunbar School. This left six grades, six teachers, and six classrooms, including "The Chicken Garden". Everyone was happy because of the additional space and time to do a better job for the children.
In 1954, Mrs. Hunter's service ended at Sunrise. Mrs. Willie Mae Kelly, Mrs, Thelma Johnson, and Mrs, Ida Bell Brown were added to take care of increased enrollment. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Allen worked split-shifts. Mrs. Brown used the St. Paul Baptist Church on Pinson Street as a classroom. This plan was not satisfactory because three locations for one school proved to be a hardship on the students and teachers. Therefore, the schoolboard discontinued the use of the school as a classroom. Mrs. Brown's service ended. However, when school opened in September 1955, the overflowing enrollment of first graders was too large for Mrs. Kelly. Miss Hattie O. Wedgeworth was employed and worked on a split-shift with Mrs. Allen. This year the enrollment of Sunrise was approximately 350 and the staff consisted of eight teachers: Mr. Augustus WHitted, Mrs. Ulma C. Wilson, Mrs. Newarlee Thurman, Mrs. Earlene Allen, Mrs. Thelma Johnson, Mrs. Willie Mae Kelly, Miss Hattie O Wedgeworth, and Mrs. Mary McMillan, Principal. Mr. O.H. Stowe was Superintendent, Mrs. Meram M. Lowe and Mrs. Leta Mae Gaby were supervisors. Mr. Arthur L. Bentley was a visiting teacher and Miss Mary L. Williams and Mrs. Aletha Woods were nurses.
1955-56 was the last term for Sunrise in a Common School District. The Fort Worth city limits were extended which made Sunrise a part of the Fort Worth Independent School District. The FWISD Schoolboard purchased 8 acres of land from the Leatherman Family at 3409 Stalcup Road and immediately began plans for erecting a new Sunrise School.
Meanwhile, "The Chicken Garden", owned by the late Milton and Eliza Sears, was not available for rent as classrooms use any longer. Therefore, Mr. Whitted, Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Kelly, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade children were transferred to Dunbar Elementary School until a building large enough to accomodate the entire "Sunrise Family", as we often called ourselves. Grades one, two, three, and four teachers along with Mrs. McMillan, Mrs. Thurman, Mrs. Wilson, and Miss Wedgeworth remained at Sunrise on Walker and Pinson Streets. This being the 81st school annexed to the Fort Worth Independent School District was called Sunrise #81. When school opened in September 1956, our other family members were missed greatly. Even though we were few in number, we soon adjusted to the regulations of FWISD. Once again enrollment was greater than expected in the first grade. Therefore, a cottage was moved to campus and Mrs. Curlie Gales was hired as a first grade teachers. Our faculty numbered five until September 1958. The new school at 3409 Stalcup Road was completed. It's doors were opened for occupancy on December 18, 1958 with an enrollment of approximately 400 pupils. The school personnel included Mrs. Mary McMillan, Principal, Mrs. Vera Grace Berry, Secretary, teachers, Miss Hattie O. Wedgeworth, Mrs. Hazel Montgomery, Miss Connie Lyons, Mrs. Margie (Brewer) Smith, Janice Ashurst, Miss Francis Chambers, Mrs. Barbara (Norton) Dunlavy, Mrs. Ulma C. Wilson, Mr. Rossevelt Jones, Mrs. Merita Evans, and Mr. Charles Baker.
Sunrise School has grown rapidly since its beginning. The present building is made of brick. It has 12 permanent classrooms and 8 temporary classrooms, an auditorium, a cafeteria, office, nurse's room, maid's room, book room, storeroom, 2 lounges, and 5 comfort rooms for boys and girls. The enrollment exceeds 400 pupils. The personnel include a principal, a secretary, 18 regular teachers, 1 reading specialist, 1 speech teacher, 1 band teacher, 1 visiting teacher, a part-time librarian, 2 cafeteria workers, 2 custodians, and 1 maid.
This information was collected from Tarrant County Superintendent Stowe, Mrs. John Crouch, Mrs. Senola Howard, second President of Sunrise Parent Teacher's Association, Sunrise School scrapbook, and Mrs. Mary McMillan, Principal.
As recorded by Ulma C. Wilson, 4th Grade Teacher School #81
Sources: Billy W. Sills Center for Archives
Stop Six Heritage Center 5100 Willie Fort Worth, TX 76105.