The Woman Behind Our Name
By Derek G., Student of Helen S. Dunn
Each day teachers and students walk thought the front doors of our school. Some turn left, others right, each in search of thier future. How many of them notice when entering the building the picture of a woman hanging on the wall to the right? While brainstorming ideas for a newsletter a group of students in the after school program came up with a question they thought needed ansering. Do you know why we call our school the Helen S. Dunn School? To help answer the question we invited three of Helen S. Dunn’s daughters to our school to find out about this remarkable woman. What follows is her story.
The school we attend was named after Helen Victoria Smart Dunn. She was the oldest of nine children born to Thankful Dennis Smart and Jacob James Smart. She went to Gould’s Ridge Elementary School. Her high school years were at Old Town High School. On June 11th, 1915 she graduated. In the fall of that same year she took her first teaching job at the McPheter’s School in Passadumkeag. On August 14th, 1920 she married Carl E. Dunn of Milford. They lived in Olamon where they raised eight children including Veda, Irene, and Martha who spent the afternoon with us.
In recalling thier monther’s experiences her daughters brought to life the past. ”Didn’t mama teach down at the Spring Bridge Road her first year in a workshop?” “Oh yeah, it’s in the book. Can you imagine?” Martha asked laughing. The daughters recalled having thier mother as a teacher. They remembered how if you got into trouble in school you also got corrected at home. It is interesting to note that in 1945 Martha taught with her monther in a two room schoolhouse. Martha taught downstairs and her mother up. Mrs. Dunn retired in 1957 after 37 years of teaching. She was one of a few people to hold a Lifetime Teaching Certificate in 1932. In addition, she is in a book published by the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. The book is titled Women Who Made Their Mark, which highlights teachers who have had schools named after them.
In 1961 the town voted to name the school the Helen S. Dunn School. On Sunday, May 20th, 1962 it officially became the Helen S. Dunn School. To celebrate the event the town did a ‘This is Your Life’ to honor Mrs. Dunn and hung a plaque with her name on the outside of the school. On May 3, 1977 Helen S. Dunn passed away at the age of 80.
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