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Delta Elementary School dedicated in honor of longtime teacher, principal Pat Dooley
An afternoon ribbon cutting ceremony in Delta on Sunday marked the opening of the Pat Dooley Elementary Building, which spans 13 acres and 34,000 square feet.
With pieces of newly cut blue ribbon resting at her feet, Dooley, who worked 43 years in the Delta School District, welcomed around 400 visitors to the more technologically efficient building.
Before touring the school, each visitor congratulated Dooley on the dedication and expressed their appreciation for her influence on education in Delta.
"She deserves it," said her grandson Jon Dooley. "She has had a big impact on this community. She has taught four or five generations in some families."
Construction crews began working on the elementary school in March 2009, less than a year after voters in the district gave their approval to a $2.6 million bond issue. The school has a regulation-size gymnasium, a library that by fall will house new books and computers, and 13 classrooms, each equipped with a smartboard.
"The library, the computer room, this is what it's all about," said Ernie Brown, a member of the building committee that helped guide the project from the beginning. "It's just a great day. Education is very, very important to this community."
As Dooley greeted friends and former students, elementary teachers lined the hallways eager to answer questions about their new classrooms.
Third-grader instructor Stacey Birk said she's pleased to move out of the old elementary school, which she called outdated. The roof leaked in places, she said, and her classroom often flooded.
Birk said she's excited to learn how to use the smartboards in the new school, where students will have their first class this fall.
Skylar Barr, one of Birk's students, said she's happy to be within walking distance of her new school.
The current elementary building, built in 1957, was more than three miles from where the new building sits.
Dooley, who lives next door to the new building, said the most important thing about the school is its updated technology.
Before she retired in 1995, Dooley remembers wanting to bring in a few new computers for the elementary students, but the old school lacked the space and didn't meet operational demands.
"We could only just have so many [computers] because the school wasn't wired for all that," Dooley said.
Dooley joined the Delta School District in 1957, teaching mostly seventh- and eighth-grade social studies, English, art and music. After 30 years as a classroom teacher, Dooley moved into administration and was the elementary school's principal for 13 years.
Dooley said she enjoyed teaching junior high students, because they were always committed to learning and also willing to help her assist the high school in putting on school banquets. The high school asked her to help a lot, Dooley said, because her music and art students would always be willing.
"You take that junior high group, they can be molded in so many different ways," Dooley said. "They were wonderful. I enjoyed working with that music and art group."
Brown remembers Dooley as a teacher who was approachable and who never thought any question was a silly questions.
"There's not very many people like Pat," he said.
"She's a person I look up to with her persistence in what she's done with her students, look at how many she's got here today," district superintendent Nate Crowden said. "It's right to recognize all that she has accomplished."
324 Liberty St., Delta, MO