Muleshoe teacher’s dedication honored

Courtesy photo This was Mary DeShazo’s class about 1946-47.

David Stevens

Mary Brantley worked in the front office at Muleshoe’s Mary DeShazo Elementary School from 1969 to 2002. She was sometimes mistaken for the school’s namesake.

“People would ask me ‘Are you Mary DeShazo?’ because I’d been there so long,” Brantley said. “A lot of people didn’t realize (DeShazo) was a person. It was such an unusual name and they just didn’t know anything about her.”

Muleshoe school officials will rededicate the renovated school named in DeShazo’s honor in ceremonies set for 1 p.m. (CDT) today. So this seems a good time to reintroduce the pioneer educator to students of all ages.

“I know my mother wore a red dress to school every day every first week of school because on the playground she wanted those new kids to know where she was,” said Mary Weems, who has traveled from her home in El Paso to attend Friday’s ceremonies.

“She taught everywhere she was needed. If they wanted her to teach Sunday school, she did that. She mostly taught first grade, but during (World War II) they could not get an algebra teacher so she went to the high school and taught algebra.”

DeShazo and her new husband arrived in Muleshoe in 1923 and she began an aggressive pursuit for employment with the school district.

“They were saving the jobs for the men who had families to support,” Weems said, “but she felt like she was qualified and she needed a job.

“So the man who was head of the board of education lived right by them and she told him, ‘I want to come to the meeting and talk to the board of education myself.’ He said, ‘No, no, no, you can’t do that.’”

Instead, the school board president spoke to the board on DeShazo’s behalf and she soon began a lifelong career as an educator.

“She was strict,” Weems said. “If she told you to do something, you had better do it. She wasn’t a very big lady, but she demanded you go by the rules.”

But that’s not the reason Muleshoe named its only elementary school in her honor soon after cancer claimed her life at age 55 on Nov. 11, 1952.

“I know that she was very dedicated,” Weems said. “She loved God, she loved her family and she sure loved those little students. Her true love was those little children.”