Part of an interview with Dr. Agnes Lockette by Shannon Smith on February 6, 1980. Lockette describes developing the early childhood education program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and describes challenges in the Las Vegas public school systems during the population boom of the 1950s.
Dr. Agnes Lockette oral history interview, 1980 February 26. OH-01130. [Audio recording] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas
Standardized Rights Statement
At the present time. What exactly do you do? I'm responsible for early childhood education. I'm an associate professor of early childhood education and I'm responsible for teaching all the courses in early childhood education. Since I arrived at UNLV as a full-time faculty member, I developed the early childhood curriculum. When I came to UNLV we only had two courses in early childhood, but now we have a total of seven courses, five undergraduate courses and two graduate courses. So we're moving along quite well in developing that part of the curriculum. Sounds like you were very influential in that program. It's a very good program, obviously. Have you noticed in the last—what, twenty years you've been here? Well, almost like thirty years. Thirty years. I'm sorry. Have you noticed any dramatic changes or just subtle changes that have taken place in the education program? Oh, I noticed a lot of dramatic changes both at UNLV and in the public schools. When I first came to Las Vegas, first we did not have as many public schools because we didn't have—well, this area was not as highly populated as it is today. But during 1955 when we had what we call a building and growing boom, we had lots of people to come into this area and, of course, then, lots of children also arrived at the same time as their parents did. Our schools were overflowing. Then the schools were on what we call half-day sessions wherein some of the children started to school at eight o'clock in the morning and they went from eight to twelve and they left school and a new group of children arrived at twelve and went to school from twelve to four. I think the quality of teaching that we have today is much superior to that we had in those early days because the school district really needed people to really take care of children at school and they were not as strict as they are today about the certification and the preparation of those teachers. Some teachers came to this area to teach with basically, say, two years of college. They had not finished or prepared themselves for elementary teaching. We had some people who were more prepared to teach in the secondary schools, but they were given jobs in the elementary schools because the school district just needed to have teachers. In fact, we used to say among ourselves (almost) to have a warm body to come to Las Vegas and get a job because of the (men). And as I go in and out of the schools today, I certainly know that these people are better qualified and the quality of teaching is much better than it was at that time.