About Pink Elementary

Thomas Lane Pink Elementary School proudly opened its doors for the first time on August 25, 1997. Serving the community of North Richmond, the school was named for the distinguished African-American educator, Thomas Lane Pink. Following his retirement, Pink was quoted as having said: "The greatest accomplishment during my 65 years of life is the inspiration and motivation I feel I have given to...children."

Sparked by the accomplishments of our namesake, Thomas Lane Pink Elementary School has continued to challenge and encourage excellence in its students. A variety of programs is offered to meet their unique needs. Student-led announcements begin each day. Student success is recognized and rewarded with Success Assemblies and the Palomino Buck Store. Student Council representatives in third through fifth grade participate in numerous community service projects throughout the year and operate the Palomino Buck Store, fostering good citizenship and leadership skills. Interested students in fifth grade can choose to participate in Charms and Gents, an etiquette club teaching social skills and good manners. Environmental consciousness is promoted schoolwide through our Paper Recycling program in which groups of fifth graders pick up paper to be recycled weekly from each classroom and office. A Safety Patrol program operates daily to provide fourth and fifth graders with leadership training. Innovative instructional programs include Reading Recovery, Balanced Literacy, small group instruction, STEMscopes, and Empowering Writers.

Thomas Lane Pink - A Legacy of Respect

Thomas Lane Pink was born in Kendleton, Texas, the youngest of 10 children. He grew up on a farm, picking cotton. Before becoming an educator, Pink was an accomplished baseball player who traveled extensively throughout Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States in the late 1920's and early 1930's. Pink played second baseman for the Houston Black Buffaloes and the San Antonio Black Indians, both Minor League teams in Texas. He is also reported to have played for the Chicago American Giants in the Negro Major League. Pink’s widow, Callie M. Pink, a retired school teacher, said her husband often would tell her stories about his time as a baseball player. “They would go miles and miles over many roads, and they lived in one big car.” The life of a black baseball player provided opportunities of considerable travel and adventure. Pink has been quoted in newspaper reports about his time as a baseball player: "Some folks have put down the black baseball leagues, but it was good to me back then. We had our transportation and rooms paid for as well as $5.00 a day. During the Depression, this was pretty good compared to .50 cents a day picking cotton at home."

When Pink left his “first love”, baseball, he dedicated his time to educating black children. Throughout his 38 years in education, Pink was known for pushing black children to stay in school. He also worked with parents to help them see how important education was for their children's future. He taught at several schools in the area, but is most notably remembered for the time he spent at a school in the rural community of Glen Flora in Wharton. It was there that he managed to lift many students out of a life of picking cotton and gave them hope for a better future. Family and friends credit him with influencing hundreds of children to attend college and embark on careers. "Almost everyone that graduated from that school went on to college," recalled Mrs. Pink. "They went on to be doctors, lawyers, teachers..." Pink taught and served as principal at that school, which no longer exists, but was known as T. L. Pink High School, although children of all ages attended there.

Thomas Pink also worked tirelessly to promote integration, which sometimes made enemies. His widow said it was not unusual for her and her husband to receive threats. In fact, Pink was known to have been reprimanded at times for his outspoken nature. "He was a strong-willed person and believed in saying what he felt," she said.

Throughout the local community, Pink is most notably remembered by those whose lives he affected the most - his former students. Caselene Y. Batts, a retired teacher, said she finds it difficult to put feelings into words when speaking about her former teacher. "There are so many great things to say about him," Batts said. "He was instrumental in children learning and moving ahead. He thought that not one child should be left behind." Another former student, Marie Murray, an educator, was not only a student but also a close friend of the family. "He was a major influence on my life," said Murray. According to Murray, it was Pink who encouraged her as well as her siblings to go to college. "He made sure that anyone who wanted to go to college and was capable of going got to go," Murray said. "I have experienced things I never would have experienced if it had not been for him encouraging me to follow my dreams," Murray said.

Pink died of a heart attack in 1986 at age 80. Shortly afterward, a group of former students formed the T. L. Pink Alumni Association in his honor. Each year, former students from throughout the country come together for a banquet in Wharton to give scholarships to deserving students. Over the years, the organization has given away more than 100 scholarships.

Thomas Lane Pink is remembered by family, friends and colleagues as a superb educator and man of principle. Shortly after his retirement in 1972, Pink was quoted as having said: "The greatest accomplishment during my 65 years of life is the inspiration and motivation I feel I have given to black children."