The newly renovated Yellowstone School building.
The newly renovated Yellowstone School building. Credit: Yellowstone Schools

Yellowstone Schools is breaking new ground in Houston’s educational landscape. Welcoming a fresh 9th grade class, the institution is poised to unveil its high school program within a newly remodeled and expanded campus.

This educational endeavor not only bridges critical gaps in learning but also pays homage to a rich legacy while adapting to the ever-evolving world of teaching and scholarship.

Yellowstone Schools is no ordinary institution; it’s a pioneering educational model that fuses a private Christian PK3 through 5th grade school with a public charter school stretching up to 12th grade – all within one comprehensive campus.

The visionary blend of these components not only sets Yellowstone apart as a first-of-its-kind establishment in the state, but also underscores its commitment to holistic and inclusive education.

Yellowstone’s mission is to empower students facing generational poverty. A remarkable 88% of its alumni graduated from high school in the 2022-23 academic year, with every single graduate expressing intent to embark on a journey to higher education.

This impressive feat resonates powerfully within the Third Ward community it serves, where only 18% of residents hold high school diplomas. Seventy percent of Yellowstone’s students have surmounted these odds, completed high school and enrolled in academic or vocational certification programs.

The recently remodeled campus stands as a tangible realization of Yellowstone’s commitment to excellence. Embarking on a $30 million comprehensive campaign, the institution transformed its facilities, paying homage to the enduring legacy of the nearly century-old Frederick Douglass building. This landmark structure, steeped in history and community, continues to enrich the lives of neighborhood children through education.

Originating as Frederick Douglass Elementary School in 1926, this building has witnessed generations of learners. It remains a tribute to the famed freedman after which it was named.

Acquiring the facility in 2006, Yellowstone Academy took on the mantle of nurturing minds and fostering growth. Earlier in the year, Yellowstone hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration on its newly-remodeled four-acre campus, which includes more than 50 classrooms, learning centers, playgrounds and green space, two multipurpose centers, a library, music room, art studio and innovation hub.

During the grand opening Nicola Springer, the principal architect of the campus’ new construction, said the building design channels the community’s history and culture.

“This is—a reinvestment into Third Ward by adding this new campus. The building gains its inspiration from the original architecture of Third Ward,” Springer said. “So, whether it’s the row houses, the brick building, red tile roofs or the art of famous artists like John Biggers, the building constantly reinforces the culture and quality [of the community].”

Springer also said during the master planning phase, they “embarked on a thorough exploration of Third Ward’s essence.” Every nook and cranny, every stroke of artistry, every hue of color, and every interplay of texture that defines this community was scrutinized and seamlessly woven into the fabric of the design.

Dr. James Mosley, Yellowstone Schools superintendent, reflected on the monumental journey undertaken by the institution.

“We think about 1926, what opportunities were available to Black folks then. And when we look at where we are now in 2023, and the fact that we’ve been able to add on an additional 52,000 square feet to this existing building, we are now in a place where we have four acres of land; over 120,000 square feet,” he said. “So, when we talk about life changing experience, we want to do it in a community that simply deserves nothing but the best.”


Preserving Third Ward’s Essence: Pitched roof silhouettes echo the iconic shotgun-style houses of the neighborhood, honoring its architecture and history. High ceilings and tall windows create unique classroom spaces.

Educational Legacy: Dating back to 1926, the Douglass Building represents over a century of education. The 1969 expansion, now refreshed, reflects Third Ward’s growth and dedication to learning.

Cultural Geometry: Dr. John Biggers’ artistic influence can be seen in angled ceilings, vibrant colors, and textured facades, celebrating African American experiences.

Community Hub: The Commons, uniting school buildings, becomes a gathering space for events, meals and programs, solidifying its place at the heart of Third Ward.

Bridging Education: The SkyBridge symbolizes transition and mentorship between middle and high school students, extending Yellowstone’s impact into the community.

A Window to Success: Abundant natural light floods classrooms through large windows, boosting focus and well-being while connecting students to their surroundings.