|Rebecca Dallis began teaching in the Southside Colored School in Casa Grande in 1939. She instructed as many as 70 youngsters from grades one through eight in the one-room school. This building is now on the grounds of the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society Museum.
Visitors can step inside the one-room school and imagine children from all eight grades working under the supervision of Rebecca Dallis. They studied in a long narrow building with barely enough room to hold their desks. In this crowded environment, she sent older children outside to tutor younger students. Known as a strict disciplinarian, she spanked with a switch. During some years, when the town provided no education for black high school students, her husband instructed some of these students on their front porch. Despite these difficulties, some Casa Grande African American students went on to Arizona State University and became teachers.
Although Dallis had a master's degree from the University of Arizona and was known as an excellent teacher, she earned one-third less than Euro-American teachers. Like African American teachers throughout the nation, Dallis struggled with inadequate supplies and equipment in her segregated school, making do as best she could, sometimes opening her own home to teach home economics classes. Rebecca Dallis remained at the Southside Colored School until Casa Grande integrated the school in 1952. She then found a job in another school and eventually became its principal. Later she taught in Stanfield, Arizona.
Rebecca Dallis was a well loved educator in the African American community. Her determination to provide the best education possible inspired her students. She also gained the respect of the entire community of Casa Grande, as reflected in her promotion to principal after the era of segregation ended.
Visit the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society Museum and the Rebecca Dallis Schoolhouse at 110 W Florence Blvd. in Casa Grande
Rebecca Dallis - Courtesy of Casa Grande Valley Historical Society