By Bobbie Moralez
It all started in 2005 when I needed to find a school for my daughter Lena, who is non-verbal autistic.
The neighborhood I lived in was in Fort Worth, but the school district was Castleberry ISD. At the time, the district was busing special needs kids to Joy James Elementary, which was in Sansom Park.
When I told you that this school was the best, it was because there was such a fantastic support system in place. Back then, autism wasn’t as well known, and it was even rarer to see autism in girls.
Joy James took this as a challenge and went above and beyond anything they could to reach and teach Lena. Mindy Holland, Lena’s teacher, quickly became a household name in my house and you almost couldn’t say Lena’s name without saying Mindy’s. I knew that if I wanted to keep Lena with Mindy, I would eventually need to find a permanent place in Sansom Park.
It wasn’t until 2012 that I got my wish. By then, I had already had two more children, and living in a 512-square-foot apartment with four kids and a dog just wasn’t going to work anymore.
I was driving through Sansom Park, talking to my dad through one of those over-the-ear headpieces when I saw the house for rent, with a phone number listed. It was a modest ranch home. I was so excited that I didn’t even know I had hung up on my dad!
I dared to call and it was some man living in California who owned the home.
“First month’s rent, last month’s rent and you pay utilities, “ he said.
Within two days, we were residents of Sansom Park, living in a real house with four bedrooms was something the kids have seen once in their life.
I remember the day I had to go find the water department. Norma Garcia was the secretary at Joy James at the time and she was just one of those people who had her finger on the pulse of the school and knew the where and when of everything.
She pointed west and said that when I walked out of the school to look that way, I would see the fire department and some trailer houses. She kindly explained how the city had flooded and the water was so high that City Hall had to be temporarily relocated.
Since 2012, I’ve learned to love this city more than any of the places I have ever lived. I no longer live in the rental house and have since bought a home here.
I am literally minutes from downtown Fort Worth, shopping centers and any medical facilities.
If the family wants to go for a hike, Inspiration Point is less than a mile down the road with its trails and wildlife just waiting.
If I want a potato, egg, bacon and bean taquito in the morning, I walk a few blocks to Rosa’s Grill, a family-owned restaurant. Rosa’s is one of the few places I can find that reminds me of Mexican food from South Texas.
There are times when I want some filet mignon and egg rolls. Lieu’s Vietnamese restaurant makes that wish come true. No. 52 hold the cilantro, please.
During the early stages of the pandemic, Lieu’s worked with the city of Sansom Park to provide free meals during lunchtime.
There are times I need something embroidered or need to get a T-shirt printed super fast, I go over to You Name It Design & Embroidery. And ta-da, later that weekend, we have matching shirts for whatever place I want to take the family to.
I have met so many great elderly neighbors with their stories of living here in Sansom Park that I wanted to go even further to help. I applied to be a dispatcher for the city. Through that, I have really learned the trials and tribulations of a city that is constantly looking to make the community better.
Every Christmas, my family looks forward to the little parade that the city puts on. Every department in the city, from the water department to the fire department to the police and city staff, all of them work so hard to make sure life here in Sansom Park is blissful.
Yes, we have stop sign runners. And the occasional house party at some residence two streets over that half of Fort Worth seems to show up to, with really loud music. Still, I would rather call this place home than any other.
My fifth child now goes to Joy James Academy, a Leader in Me School. When she leaves, we will still be here getting our breakfast taquitos, hiking through Inspiration Point, meeting new neighbors and hopefully staying here until the winter of my life begins.
Total population: 5,454
Male: 57% | Female: 43%
80 and older: 3%
No degree: 23%
High school: 47%
Some college: 24%
Bachelor’s degree: 6%
Hispanic: 65% | White: 29% | Black: 4% | Two or more: 1%
Click on the link to view the schools’ Texas Education Agency ratings:
Lucyle Collins MS
Marilyn Miller Language Academy
Joy James Academy of Leadership
W J Turner Elem
Dolores Huerta Elem
Lake Worth HS
T R U C E Learning Ctr
North Side HS
Marine Creek Collegiate HS
Manuel Jara Elem
Sam Rosen Elem
Washington Heights Elem
N A Howry STEAM Academy
Effie Morris Early Learning Academy
Tarrant Co JJAEP
Irma Marsh MS
A V Cato Elem
Chisholm Trail HS
Marine Creek MS