Ero Architects

Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School Renovation Phases I & II

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ERO specializes in and leads communities in the design of schools accommodating modern digital-learners. On January 16, 2013, Thomas Jefferson opened its doors to Texas’ first early college high school and 500 students walked into the renovated hallways creating the school's first graduating class at the facility in 51 years.

ERO renovated Hidalgo County’s first high school, an abandoned 1915, split-level, classical-style, PSJA ISD school and transformed it into a first-of-its-kind college-campus style learning environment to accommodate as many as 500 students. The emphasis of the first T-STEM Early College High School in Texas, was a rigorous curriculum to prepare students for working in a 21st century environment or preparing for the challenges of Higher Education. The high school is centered on science, technology, engineering and math in a college-style setting. Today, this TEA-designated Demonstration School, graduates more than 60% of its students with an associate degree from South Texas College.

The project challenges included preservation of the original 1915 front facade and its ornate cast stone portal. Mesquite wood flooring contributes to the historical ambiance of the building. The architects accented the original building’s beauty and unique 3 1/2 split-levels by featuring bright color and ample daylight. The main building incorporated new side wing additions that now feature floor-to-ceiling modern glass-clad walkways. Within the calm and cool corridors of the school, students gather in non-traditional education spaces. The design also features two exterior courtyards shaded with large canopies where students enjoy their time studying and socializing beyond the classroom walls. A new multi-use cafeteria provides the school and the greater community with a venue for performances, lectures and events. The success of the design has unfolded by the accomplishments of the students after the first year of its completion.  

After spending two years in portables at Audie Murphy Middle School, it is a good feeling to have a campus where the students are in charge of their own learning. We are in awe over the science labs, technology resources, cafetorium and landscaping. It feels like a college campus.” 

Marisela Zepeda

Principal, Thomas Jefferson ECHS, PSJA ISD
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