This interview was conducted by Arlene Jennifer Hernandez on October 6, 2010 in San Antonio, TX. as part of Palo Alto College’s History 1302 – Fall 2010 class.
Kenda Montez was born on July 29, 1952 in San Antonio TX at The Baptist Hospital she attended Forbes Elementary School. Her Junior High Years she went to Connell Middle School and Graduated from Highlands High School. After High School She decided to go to college and went to San Antonio College for a year. Then she transferred to South West Texas University in San Marcos and graduated with a teaching degree in August 18, 1973. She went back to school and got her Master’s Degree at Our Lady Of the Lake University and is now teaching First Grade Bilingual at Harmony Elementary School. She wanted to learn how to speak Spanish, so she went to Mexico and stayed at an Orphanage for a couple of weeks. She loves to travel, she has went to so many places, like Hawaii, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Cancun, Canada and much more. She got diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in October 1978. She has been a sunday school teacher since she was 18 years old. She has a brother who is 3years younger and no sisters. She currently has no kids which is weird, because she loves kids. Her favorite thing to do is plan new projects for her kids. She does so many great things for her students throughout the years. My first grade teacher Mrs. Montez is still living strong and happy teaching at Harmony Elementary School.
Describe a typical day in the 1950’s.
Well I would go to school, then come home, do my homework and before I could go out and play I had to finish my chores. I stoped playing with my friends at age 9, because I had to start working and help my mom out.
What would you do for fun? Well, I didn’t really have a childhood for that long, but when I got the chance I would just play house, or hide and seek with my friends. I had to turn into an adult around age 9 or 10.
What were your earliest childhood memories?
My earliest childhood memory, was when I went to Monterrey Mexico, in 1979 and stayed in an orphanage for about 3 weeks just so I could learn Spanish.
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
My first job I got was when I was 9 years old, I started working at my dad’s toy company named BnW I started by putting labels on toys, I only made 10 cents an hour. When I turned old enough to get a higher paying job which was 16 years old, I moved to an office and I got payed $1.25 an hour, I would answer the phone and check invoices.
Was there alot of racist going on while you were going to school? No, no one really said anything that I remember off. We just all knew where we belonged. We mainly only talked to kids of our own race.
What was your first car?
Well, while I was attending college my parents let me use their car which was a 56′ buick. Later, when I saved money I bought a brand new car, which cost me 3,000 dollars. Back then it was alot for me and now it would be great to buy a brand new car for 3,000 dollars.
What college did you attend and was education your first major?
Well, I went to San Antonio College, then I went to San Marcos, South West Texas State University and I got my Masters at Our Lady Of the Lake University, later I got my councelor degree in 1990. I have always loved kids and I new education was the major for me. I wouldn’t change my degree for anything.
When did you get married and how many kids do you have?
I got married on March 19, 1977 to David Chagoya and got divorced in 1990. Later I got remarried on June 29,1996 to Armando Montez, and remain with him till this day. I don’t have any kids, because they are not for me, but I love to teach kids, that’s why I teach first grade.
Have you met any important throughout your life time?
Yes, I met Henry Barbosa González when I went to Washington D.C. I was a senior at my High School, only two students of each state got to go. It was a Presidential classroom for young Americans. Henry was a Democratic politician from the state of Texas. He represented Texas’s 20th congressional district from 1961 to 1999.
What is something that has changed since you first started teaching?
Well, during my first year of teaching I made 6,200 dollars a year, which was around 315 dollars a month. It seemed like a good amount of money back then, because rent was only 159 dollars a month for my apartment. When I finally decided to buy a new house in 1978 that only coost 26,000 dollars and I only payid 210 dollars a month, which was great. I wish everything was still so cheap. I also noticed how the food prices and gas has went up. This was my first class after getting my teaching degree.
Do you have any children?
No, I dont have any children, but in 1993 I became an aunt when my brother married one of my best friends and now I have two nieces, Morgan and Reagan. I also became a God Mother of 3 children in 2002, they are like my children.
Did you travel anywhere in the U.S.?
Yes, I traveled to so many places, The trip of my Lifetime was Hawaii, I went in 1989 for 23 days. I did so many things, I walked on Hot Lava, First helicopter ride, and I visited Arizona Memorial, Maui, Hawaii, Oahu, and Kauai. I also saw a 360 degree full circle rainbow from Punch Bowl cemetary, which was beutiful. I went to a black sand beach and visited Polynesian Cultural center. It was the best 23 days of my life. I was so lucky to go there. Another place I went to which was exciting as well, was Paris. It was very different, but beutiful.
What other places did you go to?
I went to Europe, Pennsylvania, San Fransisco, Canada, Cancun and so much more to name. I am just so happy I got the chance to visit so many places.
Is there anything difficult you had to go through during your childhood life?
Yes, my father commited suicide in 1986. I was devastated. My father ment so much to me and he was so proud everything I was doing. Another thing was that in 2001 my friend and fellow teacher were murdered, by her husband and his girlfriend.
What is something that is very memorable to you?
Well, I teach first grade at Harmony Elementary School Harmony Elementary School and every year I do very special things with my students and take so many pictures. I make them a book, that has all the projects and work they did in my class and at the end of the year before they leave for the last time, I hand it to them and they get very excited and until now most of my students still have the book I made. That’s not all before they graduate I send every single one of them an invitation to Pizza Hut. I love doing that and seeing how fast and how much they grow up and at the end of that day I give them a present with a check of 100 dollars and I Congratulate them for getting far with there education. That is something I do every year and something I enjoy doing for all my students.
How is your health now?
Well, I got diagnosed with Rhematoid Arthritis and it has been very difficult, but im glad my students help me out. It’s difficult for me to get around like I use too.
How has San Antonio changed from now?
Before, there wasn’t that many drugs and crime like there is now. Also I see children enjoying there childhood more, back then the children had start working at a young age to help out their parents, and now while the kids go to school to get an education, the parents are working and making the money. Prices have gone up on gas and food and housing, but also salary has gone up too. I am so glad im not making 10 cents an hour anymore.
Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?
Well, nothing really I am just so glad I got the chance to visit so many places when I did. I am happy that my life worked out this way, there has been so many changes in San Antonio and I am happy I got through the rough times I went through. I want to thank god Im still alive.
I learned that San Antonio has changed in many different ways, like the way children use to live and how the prices have chaged. The way my childhood was and hers is way different. When I was a child, I would go to school come home and my dad would help me out with with my homework, then I would eat and watch television until 8 or play. In the other had she has to work to help support herself and her mother. My dad didn’t even want me to work at 16. The most important point made to me is that most children had to work and help put food in the table. When I was in Montez’s class I learned that she had a regular life like us, I say this because when I was in kindergarten, I use to think teachers lived in their classrooms and ate in the cafeteria for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Make the Best Out of Life” she told me to make the best out of life, beacuse you only live once, but if you live life to the fullest, once is enough. My teacher didn’t really want to talk that much about her past, because she said she is happy now and she didn’t want to think so much about her old life. The good thing about this is that every story she told me was very interesting. It also interesting how life and technology changed. This is a very good way to learn about the past, because evrery story is different.
- 1952- Kenda Montez was born.
- 1957- Attended Forbes Elementary School.
- 1971- Graduated from San Antonio College.
- 1973- Attended South West Texas State University.
- 1974- Started teaching at Pecan Valley as a kindergarten teacher.
- 1975- Went to Monterrey Mexico to stay at an Orphanage and learn spanish.
- 1977- First marriage to David Chayoga.
- 1978- Got masters degree at Our Lady Of the Lake.
- 1978- Bougth first house in 1978 on Kateschenck street.
- 1978- Got diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- 1982- Teacher of the year at East Central ISD.
- 1986- Father commited suicide.
- 1989- Trip of Lifetime (Hawaii).
- 1990- Counselor Degree.
- 1990- Got divorced from David.
- 1986-1995- Taught Pre Kinder in E.C.D.C. School.
- 2001- Friend and teacher were murdered by their husband and girlfriend.
- 2007- Started teaching dual language.
- 1995-2010- Now teaching Bilingual at Harmony Elementary School first grade.