This School Gave Mexican Children Access to Education Over 100 Years Ago

Isaac Vallenilla
 | August 4, 2022

Credit: Nuestro Stories

Aoy Preparatory School is a key piece of Hispanic educational history in the United States. It is a story of inclusion and commitment to education.

The school is named after Jaime Aoy, a Spanish-born in 1823 who spent time in Havana, Cuba. After Cuba, he lived among the Mayans in Mexico for two years. 

He left Mexico disappointed in the violence he witnessed, so he moved to the United States. There he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and translated the Book of Mormon into Spanish. 

Aoy’s religious path led him to El Paso in 1887. While there, he found that Mexican children were not enrolled in the first public school –  that had opened in 1883 – because the school had made no provisions for teaching Spanish-speaking students. 

Concerned, Aoy used the savings he had earned from the Book of Mormon translations and founded an “escuelita.” He taught Mexican children in English and Spanish.

Segundo Barrio Keeps Showing Up for the Hispanic Community

La “escuelita” was located in El Segundo Barrio, a historic Hispanic neighborhood. In 1888, the El Paso school board began supporting the Aoy School, which eventually became known as the Mexican Preparatory School.

The growth of the Mexican population was reflected in the number of students, urging for more space. A vacant building was available and, alongside two assistants, he taught English to nearly 100 students.

Read more: The Rise of Alicia Escalante

Aoy died in April 1895  when the construction of a new school building had already been announced. The new campus was completed in 1899 and was named “The Aoy School” in his honor.

Aoy’s charitable soul was recognized even after his death; hundreds of students came to pay their last respects at his funeral. The opportunity that Aoy gave the Hispanic community in El Paso allowed them not only to enrich their English skills, but also have access to more opportunities. 


  • Aoy not only taught the children, but also provided them with food, clothes and even tended to their health.
  • In 2012, Aoy School celebrated its 125th anniversary, making it the oldest operating school in El Paso.
  • In 1900, the school enrolled more than 500 students, the largest student enrollment recorded for any school in El Paso that year.

Location: El Paso, Texas

Address: 901 S Campbell St

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