Nestled among thirty acres of the vast East Texas piney woods lies Bishop T. K. Gorman Catholic School in Tyler, Texas. To understand the school and the community it serves, one must view the historical and cultural development of the city itself. Established in 1846, the Tyler community is a mixture of oil rich Texas and the old South. Due to the vast oil fields, Tyler was basically untouched by the hardships of the Great Depression and gave substance to the "oil rich Texas" persona. Yet, Tyler offers many diverse also Southern cultural activities such as the symphony orchestra, theater, and community concerts.
Cultural sites include an art museum, zoo, planetarium, rose garden and museum. Two annual events that bring national attention to the beauty of Tyler are the Fall Rose Festival and the Spring Azalea Trails. Tyler is also home to the largest medical community between Dallas and Houston and a strong educational community with three colleges within the city limits. Blessed with lakes, rivers, fertile ground and plentiful rain, Tyler is a town which embodies the words "quality of life."
Catholic schooling began in Tyler, Texas in 1893 when St. Joseph's Academy opened, operated by the Benedictine Sisters. This attempt at Catholic schooling, however, did not last long. Fifty-two years later Immaculate Conception Parish laid the cornerstone for St. Gregory Catholic Elementary School. In 1945 the first group of School Sisters of Notre Dame came to Tyler to teach a student body of 102. Within ten years, increasing demand and support for higher education in the Catholic School System brought forth plans to build a high school facility.
In 1956, under the direction of Monsignor Vincent Wolf, pastor of Immaculate Conception Cathedral, land was purchased in "rural" South Tyler for the establishment of a Catholic high school. Two years later, Tyler Catholic High School opened on September 2, 1958. The dedication ceremonies for the school took place on October 5, 1958 with Bishop Thomas Keiley Gorman presiding. In 1970, the school was re-named in his honor.
In July of 2010, Bishop Álvaro Corrada restructured the organization of the Tyler Catholic School System naming Gorman as a regional school with sister elementary schools in surrounding counties, thus becoming Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Catholic School.
The early years of the school were guided by the efforts of Monsignor Edward McCullough and Monsignor Joseph McCallum along with the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Monsignor McCallum is credited with directing the school toward a college preparatory format. The current high school gym and football stadium were built under his guidance. The school struggled with finances and morale even in the early years, but many people sacrificed to make sure the school stayed open.
In the seventies and eighties, Pastor Monsignor Milam Joseph led the school system through more than twenty years of growth, including the construction of the middle school wing at Bishop Gorman School in 1981. The middle school facility and gym currently serve as a community and athletic center for school functions.
The school's picture has not always been "rosy." In the early nineties, the school fought declining enrollment, administrative and faculty instability, spiraling debt ($500,000); the school faced closing.
Current school chaplin and Vicar General, Monsignor Joseph Strickland, shares the same dedication and commitment to the school as did his predecessors. Under his guidance, in 1998, Gorman became the first school in East Texas to be named a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Exemplary School.
In more recent years, the school has seen increased enrollment, increased stability with faculty and administration and a balanced operating budget with surpluses in the last decade. The academic addition of thirteen Advanced Placement classes has enabled students to be well prepared for college. Over 46% of the Class of 2009 entered college with a "3" or higher on at least one AP exam. This success rate is over three times the national average. The Class of 2009's fifty-eight members garnered over $4.3 million in collegiate scholarships, the largest amount for any school in Smith County, including public and private schools. The addition of the Gorman Learning Center in 2003 has enabled a wide variety of students to find success at Gorman regardless of their learning style.
The physical plant additions of an all-weather track (2000), a fine arts classroom wing (2003), a renovated Haddad High School Gym with restored performance areas and new air conditioning (2005), a major renovation to the Holy Family Library (2007), and McCallum field and stadium renovations (2010) have all helped Gorman students find success in curricular and co-curricular activities. In the past decade, teacher retention has been strong and student population has grown.
In 2009, Bishop T. K. Gorman Catholic School became one of only eight Catholic high schools in the United States to be selected for five years in a row to the Catholic High School Honor Roll, a recognition organized and operated by the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. Selection criteria includes demonstrated commitment to academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic preparation. The school is poised for even stronger growth with a newly constructed, 750 seat chapel of Sts. Peter and Paul on the northeast corner of the campus.