The first schools were established during the 1800's to provide educational opportunities for the people living in western Hidalgo County who did not have access to existing educational institutions. One of the first of these schoolhouses was build in Havana in 1849 when citizens from the towns and villages of Abram (Ojo de Agua), Peñitas, Tabasco (now La Joya), Havana, Los Ebanos and Cuevitas established a place of learning. Although far from the little red schoolhouse one might envision, the structure of rock and adobe sheltered the students of this area and gave them a solid education. This building would later become known as the La Joya Independent School District. Nellie Leo Schunior, or Doña Nellie was the pioneer of education in this area. She taught at the old Havana school from 1913 to 1916 where she was joined by Guadalupe (Ninfa) Ornelas, a resident of Old Reynosa who crossed the river by boat each day to teach. Schunior's dream was to build a high school to serve the communities west of Mission to the Hidalgo County line and even donated 15 acres of her own land to see that dream become a reality. Although Doña Nellie did not have the opportunity to see her dream become a reality, Nellie Schunior Memorial High School was built in 1926-six years following her death. It became a part of the newly formed Tabasco Independent School District and boasted a teaching staff of 18. Today, Schunior¹s dream lives on in the hearts of the students and staff at La Joya ISD. Her ideals and values have transformed into La Joya ISD's mission statement‹that educational excellence is the right of every student and that all students have access to quality educational opportunities that enable them to perform at high levels. Ultimately, Schunior's belief in providing a quality education to all students serves as the foundation for education at La Joya ISD, where teachers, staff and administration work together to ensure that each child is given the opportunity to learn and build on their own natural talents.
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