Editor’s Note: Erlinda Nava Perez submitted her story on May 16, 2013 as part of the District’s Centennial year celebration.
Nava Perez was a 1956 graduate of Round Rock High School.
In 1933, under the direction of Board President Theo Krienke, Round Rock ISD established a Mexican School to segregate Mexican-American students from their Caucasian counterparts. In 1948, Judge Ben H. Rice of the United States District Court, Western District of Texas decided in favor of Delgado vs. Bastrop ISD and ruled the segregation of Mexican-American students in the public school system was unconstitutional. The “Mexican School” – as it was referred to in Board Minutes – was closed and all of its students were transferred to Central (later renamed Berkman) Elementary School.
I went to grades 1-3 in the Mexican School where we were all in the same room – about 30 in the class. Instruction was in English, but we spoke Spanish when we went outside to play. We played jacks, dodge ball, and hopscotch. In first grade, I remember that we played “house” under an oak tree by the school. We brought dolls, and made “teacakes” out of mud. There were two classrooms in the building. Restrooms were outside, and there were six or seven water fountains in a row outside too.
“Also, Miss [Signe] Quick and Principal Claude Berkman didn’t tolerate bullying of Hispanic kids. Sometimes Mr. Berkman would ride the school bus to keep kids in line. He helped me understand that some people don’t see that we’re all just people. He believed that children should be taught to respect everybody.”
When the school closed in 1948, we had to integrate, and we didn’t question why that happened. All of us transferred to the elementary school on Anderson Avenue. Our parents said, “You go and you learn. You obey the teacher.” In fourth grade, a lot of things were new to me – what we ate in the cafeteria, for example. Kids were different. Nice? Yes and no. Some were and some weren’t.
Classes were harder. My teacher was Signe Quick. She was kind but strict, and a very good teacher. I spoke Spanish at home, and could read and write in Spanish, but I had to work hard to catch up learning English grammar. She helped me and was very patient.
Also, Miss Quick and Principal Claude Berkman didn’t tolerate bullying of Hispanic kids. Sometimes Mr. Berkman would ride the school bus to keep kids in line. He helped me understand that some people don’t see that we’re all just people. He believed that children should be taught to respect everybody.
In high school, I played softball and some basketball. That was a lot of fun. After high school, I went to beauty school and I’ve just retired after being a hairdresser for 50 years.
Looking back, I remember a good feeling, even about the Mexican school. Though teachers there were young, they gave us a start and did their best for us. All my teachers in Round Rock were wonderful. We always knew they cared about us and wanted a good future for us.
Erlinda Nava Perez
1956 photocopy of senior portrait
Signe Quick, 4th grade teacher
Claude Berkman, Principal
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