On May 31, the last dismissal bell of the school year will signal the end of an era for Dover Shores Elementary. Soon the buildings of Dover Shores will be demolished to make way for new construction. As the fateful day approaches it is met with mixed emotions by students, parents, and staff.
Certainly everyone will benefit from an updated facility. The school, located in Orlando and built in 1960, shows many signs of wear and tear. But there has always been something special about this place. It exhibits a character all its own.
I taught third grade at Dover Shores for seven years and still return weekly as a volunteer. I love the outdoor open concept of this quaint school. Walkways connect the various sections of campus. Beautiful oak trees provide shady areas for parents to meet their child for lunch.
I spoke with Mrs. Jessica Green, who attended Dover Shores as a child, and returned as a teacher in 2005. When I asked Mrs. Green if anything about education has remained the same, she smiled and said, “until now, only the buildings of Dover Shores.”
Next year DSE students and staff will be housed at the neighboring campus of Englewood Elementary. In August of 2018 they return to a new facility where all grade levels and administrative offices are under one roof. “I’ll miss the outdoor concept,” Mrs. Green stated, “but we need upgraded technology and better air conditioning.” She plans to stay in education and enjoys seeing her students’ confidence and abilities grow during each school year.
Mrs. Green is one example of the many fine teachers at Dover Shores. Principal, Dr. Randall Hart, values the commitment of his staff who continue to be relationship driven and put the needs of students first. “Forty percent of the instructional staff has taught at this school for ten years or longer,” Dr. Hart commented. He believes a community built on caring for one another helps retain teachers year after year.
Mr. Bob Bragg taught at Dover Shores for thirty-four years until retiring in 2013. Recently he organized a small library to help others remember the history of the school. Actress Delta Burke, St. Louis pitcher Cody Allen, and Paul Wilson of the NY Mets are among many successful Americans educated at Dover Shores. The historical information he collected will be preserved in the new building. Mr. Bragg saw many changes take place during his long career. When asked what he enjoyed most he responded, “teaching cursive handwriting.”
Parents have contributed much to the success of the school. Every year for the past thirty years Dover Shores received the Golden School Award. Each year DSE volunteers log over 8,000 hours of service. PTA President Mrs. Michella Johnson, and Vice President Mr. Paul Messermith, are pictured as they prepare for staff appreciation week. Mrs. Johnson has a favorite memory of helping kindergartners on field day. She encouraged a child to overcome the fear of participating in a new game.
A parent designed and painted the kid friendly murals on the exterior walls of various buildings. A sea life mural welcomes students to the second grade “pod.”
Second grade classrooms extend off a central garden patio, in continuation of the outdoor theme.
Fifth grade student, Isabella Johnson, attended Dover Shores since kindergarten. “I feel sad about the school being torn down because my great uncle helped build it,” Isabella shared. She has special memories of her school as a place where the “teachers are always nice and help the kids understand.”