Myrtle Cooper Elementary school

Socorro pioneer: Myrtle Render Cooper

Myrtle Render Cooper was the first woman superintendent of the Socorro school district in 1961 before she served as principal of the old Socorro grade school for 20 years. Cooper was born in Oklahoma, her father operated the old Ysleta Cotton Gin. Cooper came to El Paso in 1927, teaching at the Ysleta Grade School, there she met and married Forrest Cooper, who was also a teacher at the school. Cooper went on to serve as the associate superintendent of Ysleta Independent school district.

The Coopers had two sons; Joe and Forrest Jr. Cooper returned to teaching in 1939, teaching at Socorro Grade school, now Silverio Escontrias Pre-K on Buford. Then in 1943 she became principal. Socorro was then a common school district under County Superintendent of Schools, John Bean. Cooper was the only woman principal in the Socorro common school district.

Cooper developed a strong relationship with her staff, students,and their families. Cooper even helped some of her students find a job after graduation. At the time, Socorro schools started with kindergarten and ended at the eighth grade. Then students would attend Clint or Ysleta High Schools. Under Cooper, there was the construction of an auditorium,cafeteria, and additional classrooms, before the school had no cafeteria. The old principal’s cottage was converted into the homemaking cottage.

In 1950, the longtime teacher, Dorothy Woodley was appointed the school first assistant principal. In 1959 the school published it first school annual. In 1961, when Socorro residents voted to become an independent school district, Cooper continued to act as principal but also served as superintendent of schools until 1962. She continued as the principal under the next superintendent, L.M Curlee until her retirement in 1962. Cooper was a accomplished golf and tennis player. In 1987 an elementary school in SISD was named in her honor. Cooper died in El Paso in 1991.

Since 1954 the El Paso County Historical Society has been a driving force in the historic scene of El Paso. EPCHS strives to foster research into the history of the El Paso area; acquire and make available to the public historic materials; publish and encourage historical writing pertaining to the area; and to develop public consciousness of our rich heritage.