Odessa Kilpatrick Punchard
About Our Namesake
Odessa Kilpatrick Punchard was a dedicated teacher, principal, and civic worker who tirelessly gave 42 years of service to Katy ISD and the Katy community. She was also a trailblazer. As the District's first African-American principal, she devoted her entire career to seeing that all children received the education they deserved.
Punchard received her college education from Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern University. In 1929, she was hired by Katy ISD to teach African-American elementary children in the Antioch Baptist Church on Danover. She was the school's only teacher.
In 1935, the district erected an elementary building on Danover, but Punchard still was the only teacher. It wasn't until 1939 that a second teacher was hired, and in 1946 a third teacher was added. In 1953, Katy ISD built a new brick school on Danover, which was named the Odessa Kilpatrick School, even though she was still the principal.
During her tenure at the school, Punchard was known as a leader of leaders. She hired only the very best, including Roosevelt Alexander who went on to become principal at Katy Junior High School. She earned the respect of not only the teachers who worked under her, but also her colleagues throughout the rest of the district as well.
In the middle of the 1970-71 school year, Kilpatrick School was closed by court order and the students integrated into Katy Elementary and Katy Junior High. It was that year that Punchard retired after 42 years of service to the education of children in Katy ISD.