Betty Hoffmaster Harwell
Betty Hoffmaster Harwell was born on August 6, 1920 in Dallas, Texas. She and her family lived through the Great Depression. She attended Highland Park High School and graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1942. Shortly after graduation she married Thomas Meade Harwell, whom she met in her senior year at SMU. Her father, Vance DeForrest Hoffmaster Sr., worked for the Home Insurance Company. His mother, Toodles Hoffmaster, lived with Betty, her brother Vance Jr., and her mother, Annie Anderson Hoffmaster. Toodles was a very strong woman, especially for the early Twentieth Century. Betty was powerfully influenced by her grandmother Toodles and her mother Annie. Toodles insisted that both Betty and her brother, Vance, get a college education, in a time when young women were sometimes passed over for college. Betty worked in a rare books department store in New York City, while her husband attended graduate school. She acquired a broad and deep appreciation of modern and classical literature that would lay the groundwork for English V at Edinburg High School. In the early 1960s, she was hired by the Edinburg Consolidated ISD to be an English Teacher. She was given the job of developing the English V program at Edinburg High School. English V was designed to give students exposure to advanced topics that usually were reserved for college freshmen. Her students read everything from Greek Tragedies to Shakespeare to Mark Twain to Robert Frost. They studied semantics and learned how to write literary criticisms. She earned a Master's in English from Pan American University in 1977. After retiring from the Edinburg School District in 1988, she taught English Composition at Pan American University. She continued to teach at UTPA until six months before she passed away on November 18, 1994. The students Betty taught went on to become doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, and community leaders. During the 1960s, when the nation was torn by civil rights struggles and war protests, she taught students that it didn't matter where they came from as long as they worked hard and did what was right. In 1999, the Edinburg CISD honored her memory by naming Betty Harwell Middle School after her. The school's motto is Achieve and Succeed, which Betty Harwell epitomized in her life and in the lives of all the students she touched. Today, Betty Harwell Middle School stands as proof that The Legacy of Excellence continues both today and for generations to come.