'I’d like to think I’ve impacted lives' — Longstanding education professor retires after 35 years

Category:  News
Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 at 3:38 PM
'I’d like to think I’ve impacted lives' — Longstanding education professor retires after 35 years by Hazel Modlin
Contributed Photo

Dailey to remain involved with Little Free Library project

They say that when choosing a job you love, you’ll feel like you never worked a day in your life.

Kathleen Dailey, who retired from Edinboro University on Aug. 15 after 35 years, loved her job. “I wanted to be a teacher since I was 5 years old, so to be able to teach both children and young adults, and even older adults who were coming back for degrees … that was the most fulfilling.”

Dailey worked in various positions at Edinboro throughout her time. “My first 10 years, I taught preschool and kindergarten and multi-age classrooms in the Miller Research Learning Center … it was a laboratory school. The purpose of a laboratory school is to educate children and to serve as a practice teaching ground for pre-service teachers … and also to conduct research.”

During this period, Dailey was a member of the elementary education department. Gradually, in addition to teaching younger children, she also began teaching some early childhood and literacy methods classes. “It was wonderful because some of my own students would come into my classroom to observe my teaching,” she said. Toward the end of her years at the lab school, she was also given the chance to supervise field experience students.

After Dailey’s years at Miller, she took on many different roles. She was a part of the professional studies department and early childhood department at different times, taught all-graduate reading courses, and taught graduate and undergraduate literacy education classes. “I was always a member of some department of education,” she explained.

The last four years of Dailey’s career were spent in a dual position. “I taught two early childhood literacy classes — one at the undergraduate level, one at the graduate level — and then I was the director for the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE).” As CFE director, Dailey helped to promote the scholarship, teaching, advising and research of the faculty. She helped plan events and communicated information to faculty about professional articles and professional book groups. She also helped provide service opportunities for students and faculty alike so they could “reach beyond the walls of Edinboro University.”

Around this time, Dailey also helped start Edinboro's Little Free Library project. “There are 100,000 of them around the world. The way this works is that under faculty advisors, students in clubs and organizations created these libraries out of repurposed furniture, and we had a big book drive on campus. To date, I believe we’ve collected about 7,000-8,000 books,” she said.

They then fill the libraries with those books and take them to several different locations for community use. Dailey believes they have created 25 Little Free Libraries over the years. Locations include Goodell Gardens, McKinley Elementary School, Frontier Park and many more. She is still involved, despite retiring, and Mary Weidner, an assistant professor in the communication sciences and disorders department, has taken over as the faculty member on campus. They’re currently working on launching two new libraries within a month.

Dailey feels her greatest accomplishment is passing the torch of her love for teaching onto students. “Teaching has been a passion of mine for many, many years, and if I can pass along that passion to others, I feel like I’ve fulfilled what I started out to do,” she said. Dailey believes her second greatest accomplishment was the work she did as CFE director. “I feel like I had the opportunity, with the help of my colleagues, to aid in everyone’s professional development, including my own.”

Something Dailey loved about her job was that no two days were the same. “I was provided so many opportunities and so many choices about how to move along with my career path,” she said. She feels her career changed tremendously over the years, but in all good ways.

Retirement is a big change, and Dailey said there are parts of her career at Edinboro that she will miss more than others.

“I miss the students and my colleagues. I miss the opportunity to teach, but I still feel like I’m teaching, just in other ways,” she said.

Dailey is still keeping up with what’s new in education, what’s happening on campus, and she’s still in touch with some of the students on campus through the Little Free Library project. “I spent so much of my life [at Edinboro], so that piece of my life, it’s just different now,” she said.

Looking to the future, Dailey has plans to stay involved in education. She will continue to work on the Little Free Library project, but she’s also beginning a new endeavor: Frolic on the Bay. This project is sponsored by the Erie Yacht Club, and it will provide boat rides for young adults and children with special needs.

Dailey also plans to spend more time with her family; her younger son just moved to Tacoma, Washington, and her older son just got engaged. She would also like to take some time to travel the U.S. and begin counting the number of national parks she’s visited.

Dailey has been an active presence on campus, and it’s clear she’ll be missed. “I’ve gotten so many nice emails from students and from my colleagues … and it helped to affirm what I’ve done over my 41 years of teaching, 35 at Edinboro. I’d like to think I’ve impacted lives.”

Hazel Modlin is the Arts Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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