T. J. Austin Elementary School was originally located on 3.37 acres at the corner of North Moore and West Franklin Streets in Tyler and received its first pupils in September, 1936. The brick building had only six classrooms when first constructed, but before the year ended growth made it necessary to add two classrooms. An auditorium and two more classrooms were completed in 1941; three classrooms and a modern cafeteria were added in 1947; and four more classrooms came in 1951. November 1963 saw the addition of seven new classrooms, a library, restrooms, and storage space. Continued growth led eventually to the inclusion of several portable buildings. After 70 years, in 2007, a beautiful new school building on the same site replaced the original structures. (See map.)
The school was named for Thomas Jessie Austin, the principal of Emmett J. Scott School. Mr. Austin, a scholarly Fisk University graduate, came to Tyler from Brownsville, Tennessee. This tall, quiet educator was strong and courageous in his convictions and emphasized the importance of character, self-respect, and industry to his students. Mr. Austin served as a member of the Board of Stewards for St. James CME Church for 20 years and as a Sunday-school teacher for 44 years. He was also president of the Westview Cemetery Association. At the age of 92 he was presented with the coveted Silver Beaver Award by the Boy Scouts of America for outstanding service. Mr. Austin died in 1959.
Mamie Griffin was the first principal, serving from 1936 to 1955.
L. P. Tolbert was Austin’s second principal, from 1955 to 1960.
James W. Anderson served in that capacity from 1960 to 1973.
Charles E. Mathis was principal from 1973-1984.
Gladys Johnson served as principal from 1984-1995. After Mrs. Johnson retired, she served as TISD School Board Member from 1998-2005.
Malcolm Gipson served as principal from 1995-1999.
Carolyn Turner served as principal from 1999-2012.
Walter S. Perez served as principal from 2012-2016.
Brandy Holland, our current principal, began her tenure during the 2016-2017 school year.