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Hoggard, Mabel, 1905-1989


Mabel Hoggard was the first licensed African-American educator in Nevada. Hoggard taught primarily first and second grade at various elementary schools throughout Clark County, Nevada from 1946 until her retirement in 1970. The schools she taught at included Westside Elementary, Matt Kelly Elementary, Highland Elementary, and C.V.T. Gilbert Elementary, all located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mabel Hoggard was born on March 10, 1905 in Pueblo, Colorado to Maybelle and Marshall Welch. She attended elementary and high school in Des Moines and Colfax, Iowa where her grandparents lived, but returned home to Colorado during summers to help her mother run a family grocery store. Hoggard attained her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Bluefield State Teachers College in Bluefield, West Virginia, a historically black college, where she graduated cum laude. During her time there she married her first husband, Irwin Wims, and had her first son, Charles I. Wims on June 13, 1925. Hoggard also went on to postgraduate work at both the University of Chicago and the University of California, Los Angeles.

After graduation, Hoggard first worked in Jenkins, Kentucky as a teaching principal for six years, and subsequently took a similar job in Williams, West Virginia for another six years. Hoggard spent two years as part of the administrative staff for the Williams Housing Authority before moving west in 1944.

On her way to California, Hoggard visited family in Las Vegas, Nevada where she decided to remain and acquired an administrative position at the Jefferson Avenue United Service Organizations (USO) office. She worked there for two years before she became Nevada’s first licensed African-American educator in August of 1946. In 1947, Hoggard met her second husband, J. David Hoggard, a widower with two children who is known for his time as the executive director of the Economic Opportunity Board of Clark County and as an ardent worker for Las Vegas African American communities.

During Hoggard’s 24 years of teaching in Clark County she received a variety of awards and continued her postgraduate work at Nevada Southern University (now UNLV). Hoggard served as part of numerous educational, civic, and religious organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Church Women United, the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, the Zion Methodist Church, the Las Vegas Classroom Teachers Association, the National Education Association, and the League of Women Voters. She also notably served as the chair of the Westside Council, a coalition of Westside elementary schools, in 1969 and she was a key part of establishing a district-wide school lunch program.

In 1974, Bonanza Elementary School in Las Vegas was renamed the Mabel Hoggard School in her honor, later renamed the Mabel Hoggard Math and Science Magnet School. The school reflects the history of segregation and integration in Clark County, as it was turned from an elementary school into a “Sixth Grade Center” in 1982 to fight overcrowding. This program of integration was unique to Nevada and essentially meant African-American students were bused from the Westside area of Las Vegas to schools around the valley from first through fifth grade, and during sixth grade, white students from other parts of the valley were bused into various Sixth Grade Centers in the Westside. This program ended in 1990.

Mabel Hoggard died in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 31, 1989.


“Our Namesake-Mabel Hoggard,” Mabel Hoggard Math and Science Magnet School.

“Mabel Hoggard,” Online Nevada Encyclopedia.

Emily Richmond, “Students see few reminders of desegregation ruling,” Las Vegas Sun, August 15, 2018.