History of Katharine Drexel Elementary
Katharine Drexel Elementary School was founded as the first educational establishment for black children in Broussard, Louisiana. It was through the efforts of Mother Katharine Drexel, that a mission school to serve the black children of Broussard was constructed during the late 1920’s. However, it was not established in the same location and with the name as we know it today.
The school, which was given the name St. Joseph School, was first located on Sacred Heart Parish grounds, where it stayed until 1953. The building was then moved to property which had been acquired for St. Joseph Parish through a donation from Mr. Louis (Loul) Billeaud. An “educational institution” is what St. Joseph School provided until the early 1960’s, when Broussard Negro Elementary, the first public school for black children, was built.
It was not long after Broussard Negro Elementary was built (mid 1960’s), that a teacher who worked under Mother Katharine Drexel, Mrs. Nelson, was successful in “having the Lafayette Parish School Board change the name of the school to Katharine Drexel Elementary School” (p. 16).
Nevertheless, the school was still only for the black children of Broussard. It was not until 1970, when the courts ordered the total desegregation of schools in Lafayette Parish, that “Katharine Drexel was designated a primary school to serve all students, black and white, in grades K-3.“ Finally, in 1981, grade 4 was relocated from Broussard Elementary and added to the Katharine Drexel Elementary School campus.
Today, Katharine Drexel Elementary continues its strive to provide excellent public education for Pre K through fourth grade students. It is home to approximately 700 students that not only live in Broussard, but a number of students from the south Lafayette area as well. Most importantly, all members of Katharine Drexel’s faculty and staff understand and are dedicated to creating life-long learners by providing quality education in a safe environment for all students.
Visitors are always welcome and encouraged to stop by and learn more about Katharine Drexel Elementary School!