Dale Lovett retires,

Dale Lovett retires, reflects on 30 years in education

Dale Lovett retired in May after spending 30 years in classrooms in Graham and Olney and having experienced the joy of seeing some of his students return to teach in their hometown school. In addition to chairing the Olney Hamilton Hospital board of directors, Dale was a board member for the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE). The Enterprise asked him to reflect on how education has changed during his tenure, and how it can improve.

Q: One of the concerns at schools after the COVID pandemic is teacher retention. What is your perspective on a statewide level?

A: I’m speaking from hearing the voices from (ATPE). We have over 100,000 members in Texas representing classroom teachers, paraprofessionals like secretaries, aides, bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers, principals and administrators The Legislature grades our production by the big high-stakes test called the STAAR test in the different subject areas, and it’s just done one time a year. They’re still grading our teacher performance about whatever those students are doing, and it’s been very stressful. The Texas Education Agency added a reading academy and other mandates - they’re good nourishment for teachers but they were put on a timeline that was very stressful … the equivalent of a master’s level requirement in the “spare time” they had. They just didn’t have sufficient time.

(The state) now has a new testing company and my evaluation to the governor and to the commissioner of education, Mike Morath, is they are testing abstract questions to concrete learners. Your students learn at different levels. (When) you get to high school you should be expecting discernment and higher-order thinking and things like that but they’re testing all of them in abstract ways that are not appropriate to the younger grade levels. So that’s my two cents for the governor and the commissioner.

Q: What do you think it would take to keep really good teachers here in Olney?

A: I would say Olney school district is supportive and encouraging. There are some state resources which Olney has implemented to encourage the teachers to educate and retain a good teacher. So one way that that could be done tangibly is to have a mentor or a team-building process for every teacher. Some of my former students are now coming back to teach. They need a partner to whom they can go to, or can glean from as a mentor and as an encourager.

Q: Do you want to stay involved with teaching or education now that you’ve retired?

A: I’ve told all of my peers and that all I’m retiring from is the bell schedule. I’m not retiring from life. So I see myself staying involved in some way with the students in a few projects that cannot be done by teachers alone because of limitations of the classroom. These ideas need a good volunteer from the outside to make them happen. One of the ways the community could support the school system is to work as a substitute teacher. One of the most taxing things of the last two or three years is the lack of substitute teachers who can come in and provide an opportunity for a teacher who is either ill, has an illness or death in the family or jury duty. That would be a great help from the community.