Mabel Hoggard

Mabel Hoggard was the first black teacher employed by the Clark County School District. As a primary teacher, she taught at Westside Elementary, Matt Kelly, Highland, and C.V.T. Gilbert schools in Las Vegas from 1946 through 1970. Four years after her retirement, she was honored with a school in her own name.

Hoggard was born in Pueblo, Colorado, on March 10, 1905, and attended elementary school in Des Moines and Colfax, Iowa. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science in elementary education from Bluefield State Teachers College in Bluefield, West Virginia, and completed postgraduate work at the University of Chicago and University of California, Los Angeles. Hoggard began her educational career as a teaching principal in a two-room schoolhouse in Jenkins, Kentucky. She later held a similar post in West Virginia.

In West Virginia, Hoggard began to add the element of civil disobedience to her way of dealing with inequality. As her tenure there began, Democrats in that state were coming into office, and they wanted the school trustees to take money from teachers' salaries and put it into party coffers. Hoggard joined with the other thirty-one black teachers and decided not to allow the reduction in salary. In the end, she and three others were fired for not giving in to the pressure, while the other twenty-eight acquiesced to the political demands.

Hoggard moved to Las Vegas and quickly secured a position on the administrative staff of the Jefferson Avenue USO. Soon, though, on August 16, 1946, she was teaching again at Westside Elementary School.

In 1962, the Las Vegas Rotary Club recognized her as "Honor Teacher of the Week." She became the chair of the Westside Council in 1969. Working with a coalition of the six Westside elementary schools, she was instrumental in influencing the Clark County School District to establish a district-wide lunch program. In a pragmatic approach to helping residents of the black Westside community, Hoggard founded Project Savings at the Westside Federal Credit Union, to help children learn the value of a savings account.

During her summers, Hoggard served as program director of the Operation Independence Day Care Center, taught first grade for Trinity Methodist Day Camp, and pursued further postgraduate work at Nevada Southern University (now University of Nevada, Las Vegas). She was also a member of the executive committee of the Las Vegas Community Concert Association, the executive committee of the Southern Nevada Teachers of English and Foreign Languages, secretary of the Clark County Chapter of the American Red Cross for two terms, treasurer of the Las Vegas Classroom Teachers Association, and executive board member of the NAACP. She attended the Nevada State Educational Convention in Ely and the national Educational Convention in Portland, Oregon.

Hoggard was a life member of the National Education Association, and a member of the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Zion Methodist Church, and the Association of Retired Teachers. In April 1968, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Clark County Teachers' Association at its annual banquet, where she was described as one of the first primary teachers in the county, and as someone who dedicated her time to children, their education and her community. At UNLV commencement exercises in 1977, Hoggard was honored with a Distinguished Nevadan Award. Upon her death in 1989, Mabel Hoggard was remembered as a beloved teacher, honored community leader, and mother and wife who left an enduring mark on Las Vegas.

Further Reading

Bob Shemeligian. Nevada Pioneer Teacher Dies. Las Vegas, NV: Las Vegas Sun Newspaper, 2 June 1989.

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