Dolby Elementary Set To Lose Its Greatest Asset

As parents are attending end of the year award ceremonies, and teachers are saying their good-byes to students, there’s a sadness that lies just below the surface of the end-of-the-year excitement. The faculty, staff, students and parents of Dolby Elementary are losing who I believe is the school’s greatest asset.

Photo courtesy of Michele McGee.

Nine years ago, when by son entered Pre-K, Missy Bushnell was the assistant principal of Dolby Elementary. The following year, or perhaps the year after, the principal retired and moved on to become the principal of the first charter school in the Lake Charles area, and Bushnell was selected to step up and fill the position. Through the years, we’ve had countless interactions. When you send multiple children to a school for the span of the grades offered, the challenges faced each year can be a crap shoot. I can say that after a decade of life at Dolby Elementary, each year has been consistent. As my daughter is about to enter 3rd grade, I can’t help but notice that many of the teachers who taught my son are gone. The fact that the experience is consistent from year to year is testimony to the strength and consistency of Bushnell’s leadership and her expectation of her faculty.

Though we’ve had hundreds of interactions over the years, I can only think of three to four that had the potential to damage our relationship, but her professionalism, fairness and consistency never allowed that to happen. My admiration for Bushnell was cemented in the Spring of 2015. My son was in the fifth grade and in the second of two very difficult years. The implementation of Common Core State Standards and a drastic change in curriculum brought about a series of changes in behavior that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

This was the same year that a nationwide movement to opt out of state assessments was taking place and also the year that I became a voice in opposition of the education reforms that were affecting my children. Because of the behaviors and the anxiety that my son was experiencing, we decided to exclude him from the state assessment. I delivered the opt-out form to her personally. She accepted it, pleasantly. I was very pleased with that experience, but it is what followed that elevated her to a level that all administrators should aspire to achieve. The school was going to have a pep rally to get the students fired up about taking the fast approaching state assessment. Bushnell contacted me, directly. She said, “I know that you have decided to opt Xander out of the test, but do you mind if he attends the pep rally?” I know that as educators we all have done something for a student, or a parent, that was seemingly insignificant, but made a difference to them.  I am certain she had no idea of the enormity of her actions.

I have never attempted to initiate a conversation with her to see how she feels about the things that I oppose, nor has she. In all of my efforts as an advocate, I have referenced her countless times as a textbook example of how an administrator should conduct themselves. It was also Bushnell who was responsible for getting my daughter into the after school tutoring program that I wrote about in this blog that enabled her to make tremendous progress, this year.

Photo courtesy of Michele McGee.

Though I haven’t spoken to her, directly, I know from those close to her that she will retire from twenty-five years of service in public schools and will walk into a classroom at a private Catholic school as a teacher. I know, first-hand, what the pressure is like on public school teachers when it comes to performance, accountability, and expectation. I can only imagine what it is like for a principal. As a parent, the changes that have occurred in Dolby Elementary’s School Performance Score (SPS) are meaningless, to me. Accountability is supposed to paint a picture of how well a school is educating its students so that parents can make “choices” regarding their children’s education. I’ve made my choice. I choose Dolby Elementary.

I feel as though a family member has been lost. I know that over the next few days, there will be many tears shed at Dolby Elementary, but it won’t be until August that the sheer magnitude of the void created by her departure will be appreciated. Pursuing your passion is of the utmost importance. Leaving a lasting impression on those you encounter is a sign of success. Peace of mind, health and well-being are non-negotiable. Farewell, Mrs. Bushnell.

Photo courtesy of Michele McGee.

7 thoughts on “Dolby Elementary Set To Lose Its Greatest Asset”

  1. Ms Bushnell was my daughter’s principle all through elementary and her favorite person. We will never forget how great of a leader and teacher she was! I thank my lucky stars our paths crossed!! She deserves a key to the city!!

  2. She will be greatly missed! This was only our first year at Dolby & I could tell instantly how amazing she was. I just loved how she was always out in the front circle on Monday mornings greeting every child by name. Best of luck with your futUte endeavours Mrs. Bushnell!

  3. She will be greatly missed! This was only our first year at Dolby & I could tell instantly how amazing she was. I just loved how she was always out in the front circle on Monday mornings greeting every child by name. Best of luck with your future endeavours Mrs. Bushnell!

  4. I was shocked and very saddened to hear of Missy’s departure from Dolby. I had the pleasure of working with Missy at Dolby when I started as a regular substitute teacher there. Although I found the entire staff at that time to be AMAZING, she was one of the main reasons I chose Dolby to enroll my children at. Missy is indeed a Dolby heirloom. She was the life of EVERY PARTY THERE and the administrator that you could confide in about anything and trust to take care of conflicts professionally. My son, who will be a senior in high school next year, and my daughter, who will be a freshman in high school next year, both attended Dolby, and they STILL mention their fond memories of Dolby in their casual conversations with their family members and teenage friends. They often ask to visit in hopes of seeing Missy and their former teachers and Dolby staff members. My son will be heartbroken when I inform him that Missy will not be at Dolby when he goes to visit there as a graduating senior. I said all that to say this: Missy is one of the most pleasant administrators I have ever met. Her daily smiles, laughs, and energetic personality is contagious. I really hate that she is leaving Dolby. It truly will not be the same without her. I wish her the best as she embarks on her new adventure.
    #LoveHer!!!

  5. Mrs. Bushnell Cassidy Delaney & I have moved on to Mena, AR. As you well know Cassidy’s first few years at Dolby were rough, but she has told me several times how much you and her counselor were there for her and it was so much appreciated by Mark & I as her parents! She will never forget you and her counselor helping her through so much confusion & frustration as we tried to figure out what was going on with her. After seeking help thru counseling Her diagnosis was narrowed down to Asperger syndrome or ADHD. So through another frustrating year thinking it was Asperger syndrome we found out that it was ADHD. after finding this out you all said, the difference in Cassidy was like night and day! Cassidy has flourished into an amazing young lady!!! If you keep up with me on Facebook, you can see all of her amazing accomplishments she is truly immersed into her studies! As a very proud parent I am pleased to announce that she has finished her freshman year missing no days of school, no tardies and a 4.0 GPA with many honors!!! She often says “Well Dolby Elementary, what do you think of me now!!” LOL I thought you would be proud to know how she has Flourished! I hope you will be able to read this comment and know how much you and her counselor are appreciated and to know what a difference you make in our children’s lives. (For the life of me i can not remember her counselor’s name, but i can see her face clear as day! Forgive, old age you know … 😉 )

  6. Wow I went to Dolby about 17 years ago and Mrs missy was one of my teachers what a sad day that’s gonna be she is a part of Dolby and Dolby is apart of her

  7. I have known Mrs. Bushnell and her family for many years. I can personally say that she truly is a wonderful lady and I know that she will be missed at Dolby! I am not surprised to hear of the impact that she has had on the students, teachers, staff and parents. Great job Mrs. Bushnell! Those who’s lives that you have touched will never forget you and will always appreciate the impact that you had on their lives.

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