The History of Don Tomas Sanchez and Hermelinda Ochoa Elementary Schools
Don Tomas Sanchez Elementary School Tomas Sanchez de la Barrera y Garza (1709-1796) was born in the Valle de Carrizal in the state of Nuevo Leon. He served in the army of his king and ran a ranch in Coahuila. Sanchez requested permission to locate a villa ten leagues north of Dolores near Paso de Jacinto, later called the “Old Indian Crossing,” near Fort McIntosh. He said that the Laredo area was a “good one for the frontier province, because it offered a crossing of the river so free and easy and useful for business that there is nothing more to desire.” On May 15, 1755 the small settlement was born, with Don Tomas as its Captain de Guerra y Justicia Mayor. This small settlement was to be established near the Rio Grande at the time of the conquest of Santander. Don Tomas Sanchez died in 1796 at the age of 87, having outlived all the other frontier captains of his time, including the conquistador of Nuevo Santander, Jose de Escandon. Throughout his life, he gave service to Laredo and continued to do so until his death. The last eight years of his life were spent as Chief Justice of Laredo. Don Tomas was considered a courageous man who could be depended on to keep his word, see the difference between right and wrong and more importantly, knew the essence of truth from falsehood. On October 16, 1938, the Texas Centennial Commission erected a monument marking the site of the founding of Laredo by Tomas Sanchez. Tomas Sanchez Elementary was built in 1953 to honor the man who participated in the first struggles of our great town, Laredo.
Hermelinda Ochoa Elementary School Miss Hermelinda Ochoa (1896-1970) received her bachelor and masters degree at the University of Texas. She started her teaching career as a young teacher at a Webb County Ranch School. She also taught at Central School “La Escuela Amarilla” where she became a head teacher and principal. She completed her career as Laredo Independent School District’s Curriculum Director. She headed Lulac’s night school housed at Central School enabling many Laredoans to become U. S. citizens. She also headed the innovative “The Little School of the 400 Words” which was a precursor to Laredo’s public school kindergarten. The LISD’S headstart program was also directed by Miss Ochoa for countless years. She will be remembered as a fore-runner amongst Texas Women in Education. The Laredo Independent School Board of Trustees dedicated Hermelinda Ochoa Elementary on May 16, 1971. Don Tomas Sanchez/Hermelinda Ochoa Elementary School is located at 211 E. Ash. We moved into our new state of the art facility on November 14, 2002. Prior to that there were two campuses residing back to back. If a new school was built it would cover both boundaries, so the Laredo Board of Trustees decided to merge the two campuses in the 2001-2002 school years. Everyone moved to Hermelinda Ochoa while the new campus was being built. The schools retained both Sanchez and Ochoa faculty. The Board of Trustees decided to keep both names, thus the name Sanchez/Ochoa Elementary School. The parents, students, and staff were polled and a new mascot was voted on.