|Veora Johnson was a student at Prairie View College, a segregated school in Texas, when she was recruited by Mesa Public School Superintendent, H. E. Hendricks.
Hendricks was looking for a role model for young black students to
encourage them to remain in school, and the college president
recommended Veora Johnson, who was only 17.
Johnson became a strong and nurturing teacher who encouraged her
students to complete high school and to attend college. She mentored
her students while completing her own college education and pursuing
professional coursework during evenings and summers. Through her work
as a teacher and principal, she was instrumental in increasing the
level of education of her students, many of whom went on to complete
In 1974 she was chosen by the Mesa Public Schools Superintendent to be
a curriculum consultant, through a federal initiative to develop
excellent school programs around the country. Some of her innovations
in Mesa included team teaching and counseling for elementary schools.
She retired in 1975, and the Veora Johnson School was named in her
honor in 1985.
Johnson also was active in the black community. During World War II,
she was a member of the USO at the Washington Center. She was an
active member of her church, the Mt. Cavalry Baptist Church, and
worked for civil rights on the Better Community Council. She co-founded the first Greek letter organization "Alpha Sigma" for African
Americans in Arizona. In addition, she established two scholarships,
preferably for minority students, to reflect her personal concern for
quality education for all.
Veora Johnson was also well respected among Euro-Americans in Mesa and
was in demand as a board member in numerous organizations including
the Mesa League of Women Voters, the Salvation Army, the Mesa
Historical Society, Mesa Lutheran Hospital and the Foster Care Review
The community honored Johnson with many awards, including the following: Best
Teacher Award, 1948; Mesa Outstanding Citizen, 1953; the Charles D.
Poston, Human Relations Award, 1954; Woman of Achievement - Arizona
Association of University Women, 1967; and the school named in her
honor. The Veora Johnson Elementary School is located at 3807 E.
Pueblo Avenue in Mesa. The Irving School, where she worked as
principal, is now the Mesa School District Arts Center.
For more information, consult oral histories and files from the Mesa
Room at the City of Mesa Library, 64 E. First St. (480) 644-3100.