Zavala Elementary School in Central East Austin offers educational programs that inspire and motivate children to become responsible citizens. The school community is driven by three beliefs: Knowledge is power. Education is a community effort. All children deserve to be challenged to learn at their highest levels.
Zavala is recognized for comprising a diverse community of Austin’s littlest learners and for bringing neighborhood partners and families together to support the success of all students.
In addition to offering high academic standards across the curriculum, the school provides a world of opportunities that support the whole child—including art, music, physical education and science. The campus also offers a preschool program for children with disabilities and opportunities for students to develop their life skills.
Community is key to Zavala’s success. Partners such as Communities in Schools and the University of Texas Neighborhood Longhorns Program help extend the reach of the school’s services. Hundreds of volunteers helped create the schoolyard garden, which has been designated as a National Wildlife Habitat.
Zavala is included in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1936, the school was dedicated to Lorenzo de Zavala, a leader in the Republic of Texas. Two years later, President Franklin Roosevelt approved the development of Santa Rita Courts, the first federal housing project in the nation, across the street from the school.
Zavala is part of the Eastside Memorial family of schools, which offers STEM programs at every grade level and is part of the district’s new creative learning initiative to offer a quality arts-rich education to every child.
Historical Marker Text
In the 1930s, a rapidly growing Latino population caused the joint decision of the Austin Independent School District and Austin City Council to plan a separate facility for children attending Metz Elementary School. Austin architects Giesecke and Harris and San Antonio builders M. C. Falbo & Sons were chosen to build a 12-room brick schoolhouse in December 1935. The $42,935 cost was paid for entirely through federal Public Works Administration (PWA) funds. In 1936, as Texas commemorated its centennial of independence from Mexico, the school was dedicated to Lorenzo de Zavala, the only native of Mexico to sign the Texas declaration of independence and vice-president of the Republic of Texas. He had died in 1836. The school opened in the fall and was officially dedicated on October 21, 1936. In March 1938, U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt approved another PWA project, Santa Rita Courts, as the first federal housing project in the nation. The subsidized housing project was built directly east of the school, with Giesecke and Harris and Falbo & Sons selected for its construction. In March 1939, a request to the school board to build an addition to the school to accommodate new students culminated in additional PWA funding. Santa Rita Courts were completed in June 1939, and a companion project, Chalmers Court, was finished to the west in September. Zavala’s enrollment expanded again, and in the 1940s, Zavala was one of four Austin schools determined to be excessively overcrowded; another addition was completed in 1947. Zavala Elementary became an anchor for federal programs in the area. The school continues to serve the educational and community needs of the neighborhood.