LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. — When Dr. Delores Dante started teaching at St. Paul elementary in 1970, the Beatles had just released their album ‘Let It Be’ and the mobile phone was still a construct of science fiction.
Fast forward half a century and Dante can’t believe where the time has gone.
“They tell me it’s been 50 years, so I’m going to believe them,” she said.
“It’s been a wonderful 50 years because I have enjoyed every day that I have been here.”
THIRD GENERATION OF STUDENTS
Not only is she teacher in Lethbridge’s Catholic School District, she’s also a graduate.
Dante received her bachelor of education degree from the University of Lethbridge before starting her career at St. Paul.
“If anybody would’ve ever asked me 50 years ago if I’d still be here, I probably would’ve looked at you and said, I don’t think so.”
Dante is now teaching a third generation of students, some of which are the grandchildren of those she taught in her early years.
She says that teaching was what she always wanted to do and wouldn’t change anything if given a second chance.
“This is my life and this is my love of what I want to do.”
A lot has changed over the course of her career, especially when it comes to technology.
She’s worked through every rendition of the computer and has made the adjustment from chalk board to white board to smart board.
“What’s amazing is the evolution of how the classroom is set up, and now with my smart board,” she said.
“I don’t even know how I was teaching all those years, it was like eureka! Yippee, a smart board! And it’s interactive! Oh my goodness, I love it.”
However, one thing that hasn’t changed is her outlook when it comes to teaching.
“My philosophy has always been accept the child the way they come through the door and then you individualize and you differentiate so that you are meeting their needs rather than just a group need.”
During her tenure with St. Paul, Dante has taught grade three, kindergarten and is now a language learning intervention teacher.
She’s seen her students grow up to become computer programmers, nurses and even doctors.
She also attends the Grade 12 graduation to watch past students make their next big move in life.
“I sit and watch every one of the students go by because I want to see my own students and how many are graduating,” Dante told CTV News.
“To see a former student and they still recognize you and love you that is the greatest gift that anyone can receive.”
It’s not just the students that continue to learn though, so is Dante who’s always striving to educate herself.
“Learning is a lifelong ability, and it’s a lifelong goal for me.”
In addition to her B.Ed., she also has diploma and certificate in early childhood education diploma and Ph.D. in educational curriculum development.
St. Paul’s Principal, Gerry Muldoon, said he had to check her records to make sure he didn’t miss any of her educational accomplishments.
“There are 20 letters after her name between B.Ed. to Ph.D. and that says everything about Delores.”
Another highlight of her career was the bestowing of a Blackfoot name back in 2019.
Na’a, meaning ‘Mother’, was the name chosen for Dante because she has been the mother to many students at St. Paul’s.
“It was a great honour and she was so pleased to get,” said Muldoon.
He went on to add that over his time at the school, her attitude brings a light into St. Paul’s that could never be replaced.
“When you’ve been in one job for so long and you still have that level of enthusiasm, it is so great to see. I wish I could have it but I’m going to be here for 50 years.”
Even after 50 years, Dante says she’s not done yet and is looking forward to what comes next.
“I got my 50 year apple, but I want to challenge them, what will they give me for 55?” said Dante.
In addition to thanking all of her students through the years, Dante wanted to thank her friends, family and loved ones who helped her make it to this milestone.
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