School Name Nomination Form
The Abilene Independent School District continues to collect community feedback related to new names for Jackson, Johnston, and Lee elementary schools.
The AISD Board of Trustees appointed a collaborative School Renaming Committee to help guide this decision. After thoroughly reviewing suggestions from the community, the Committee presented a list of 12 names for further consideration to the Board on Thursday, November 5. Please use the following form to provide the Committee and the Board with your preferences regarding these names.
You will be asked to rank order all 12 names. Ranking all 12 names may require you to scroll to the right on the form. To read more about a name, click the plus sign symbol on the gray information boxes below. After you complete your ranking, you will be given an opportunity to provide additional feedback or supporting information. Please note that your name and residency status are required to submit the form.
All feedback is important in this process and will be considered by the School Renaming Committee and the Board of Trustees. The naming of facilities in AISD is governed by board policy CW (LOCAL).
Valree Eugene “V.E.” Brailsford (1930-2015) dedicated 38 years of his life to educating Abilene ISD students. Born in Burkeville, Texas, Brailsford earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Prairie View A&M after serving in the U.S. Air Force out of high school. He moved to Abilene in 1954 and began his career serving Abilene students as the librarian of the segregated Woodson High School. After a brief return to work in education in Burkeville, Brailsford returned to Abilene in 1972 and worked as the Associate Principal of Cooper High School until his retirement in 1992. Brailsford was the president of the Abilene NAACP Chapter and served on the AISD Board of Trustees – only the second African American ever elected by the Abilene community to that position.
Sonny G. Castillo
David “Sonny G” Castillo, Jr. (1941-2006) served as head custodian at Johnston Elementary in a 28-year career that spanned from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. A U.S. Army veteran, Castillo dedicated his life in Abilene to ensuring all Johnston students had a clean and safe learning environment. Mr. Castillo was also a world-class musician and his playing of Feliz Navidad on saxophone or guitar was a holiday season tradition for Johnston students and staff. He retired from the Abilene ISD in 2004 but continued serving Texas citizens as an employee for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Aline “Andy” Cleveland
Aline Anderson “Andy” Cleveland (1928-2019) held a lifelong commitment to advancing education in Abilene and the State of Texas. At the time of her retirement in 2011, Cleveland was the longest-serving educator in the Abilene ISD, having completed her 51st year as a classroom teacher and reading resource teacher. She also served as a past president of Education Abilene and sat on the Board of Directors for the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA), National Education Association (NEA), and the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. Cleveland’s life of service to the Abilene community included membership in the Kiwanis Club of Abilene and the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra Association. Her legacy as a teacher has continued through two generations as her son and two granddaughters teach and coach in public education.
Odis Debolancy Dolton (1956-2019) grew up in Greenville, Mississippi, and moved to Abilene in 1974 to attend Abilene Christian College on a basketball scholarship. Dolton became a standout athlete in basketball, baseball, and football at ACC before graduating with a degree in industrial education and psychology. He later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from ACU and Our Lady of the Lake University, respectively. After and during his education, Dolton committed his life to serving the people of Abilene – first as a social worker at the Abilene State School and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and then in a nearly 20-year career as an Assistant Director in the Neighborhood Services and Finance offices for the City of Abilene. A dedicated servant to the Abilene community, Dolton worked to support dozens of local schools, churches, and nonprofits and is the honorary namesake of the Odis Dolton Good Neighbor Award, an annual award given by the Mayor of Abilene to citizens who go above and beyond to serve others in Abilene and the Big Country.
Sgt. Reuben Marcus Fernandez III
United States Army Sergeant Reuben Marcus Fernandez III (1985-2008) was an Abilene native and 2004 Cooper High School graduate who was killed in action on October 11, 2008, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Majar Al Kabir, Iraq. Assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, Fernandez was on his second deployment in Iraq and serving as the gunner for the lead vehicle in a patrol when the incident occurred. An attendee of Lee Elementary and Clack Middle School, Fernandez’s awards and decorations included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (third Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Combat Infantry Badge.
Raymond B. Hayden
Raymond B. Hayden spent 42 years of his life in service to Abilene ISD students and was a pioneer in helping African American students in Abilene attain an excellent education and attend college. Hayden entered Abilene schools in 1916 as a third grader and completed the tenth grade; he then attended Prairie View A&M for two years and received a temporary certificate so he could teach during regular sessions in Abilene while working on his bachelor’s degree by going to summer school. His full-time teaching career began in 1927 at the age of 19; a true lifelong learner, Hayden went on to earn both his bachelor’s degree in education with honors and his master’s degree. From 1940 to 1967, Hayden served as the longest-tenured principal of Abilene’s segregated Carter G. Woodson Elementary. He also made history as Abilene’s first African American coach, leading teams named the Abilene Bulldogs and the Abilene Black Eagles. Hayden retired after leaving Texas and continuing his career in education in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Served as the AISD superintendent for 12 years (1988-2000) and was a champion of the students and teachers in the AISD. His career included a $60 million bond package for the renovation of existing schools and the construction of Clack Middle School. He also served as the superintendent in Marble Falls and Crowell during his career. During his tenure as a superintendent, Hundley would often serve as a history teacher for both high school and college students. A graduate of Baylor University, he holds honorary doctorate degrees from both ACU and Hardin-Simmons University.
During her 35-year career at NASA and its predecessor, she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks. The space agency noted her “historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist”. Johnson’s work included calculating trajectories, launch windows, and emergency return paths for Project Mercury spaceflights, including those for astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American in orbit, and rendezvous paths for the Apollo Lunar Module and command module on flights to the Moon. Her calculations were also essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program, and she worked on plans for a mission to Mars. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, she was presented with the Silver Snoopy Award by NASA astronaut Leland D. Melvin and a NASA Group Achievement Award. In 2019, Johnson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Pioneering African-American educator in the Abilene ISD, Petty taught music at Johnston Elementary for 14 years beginning in the early 1970s, and then spent 20 years at Austin Elementary. For a time, she was the only African-American teacher on the Johnston campus. She also taught private music lessons in Abilene for many years, sharing with children all over the city her love of music. She studied elementary education and music at Central State University.
Eugene Purcell (1943-present) is a 1961 Abilene High school graduate. He went on to study industrial arts and elementary education at Abilene Christian College. He served as a coach and teacher at Johnston Elementary School for 37 years, making an impact on student and families for four decades. He would often spend his own time and money to help improve the grounds and facilities at Johnston.
Robert and Sammye Stafford
Robert and Sammye Stafford were pioneers in providing education to African-American families in Abilene. A former AISD Teacher of the Year (1958), Robert was the director of the West Texas University Interscholastic League. Sammye Stafford, meanwhile, was the first African-American graduate from McMurry University and served as president of the West Texas District Teachers Association during his time as an educator.
James A. Stovall
James A. Stovall (1934-2013) was employed by Abilene Independent School District for 42 years and retired in 2000. From 1958-1967 he was a teacher at Dyess Elementary School, and from 1967-1973 was vocational coordinator for both high schools. From 1973-2000 he was principal at Alta Vista, Fair Park and Crockett Elementary Schools. He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa, an educational organization, and was a member of the Texas Vocational Coordinators Association. He was also a member of Texas Elementary Principals Association and National Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. James co-authored a science teacher’s manual for Abilene ISD, and wrote a vocational handbook for employers for ASID. He was also author of 12 Sunday school books and 12 teacher’s manuals, and 4 vacation Bible school books and 4 vacation Bible school teacher’s manuals for Quality Printing Co. After retirement, James was employed by Abilene Christian Schools for 2 years where he taught high school physics, Bible and elementary computer.