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Campus Campaign 2003: Why one professor gives

March 18, 2003

Dr. Dolores Gore loves children. And anyone observing their interaction with her quickly realizes the feeling is mutual.

When this education professor sees children, she sees the future. In any way possible, she wants to do what she can to ensure that future is bright.

Shortly after Gore joined the APSU faculty in 1982, she became a leader in initiating an effort to begin a Head Start Program in Clarksville. It was an uphill struggle, but she kept pushing, pushing. Today, thanks to her, Clarksville has a Head Start Program.
March 18, 2003

Dr. Dolores Gore loves children. And anyone observing their interaction with her quickly realizes the feeling is mutual.

When this education professor sees children, she sees the future. In any way possible, she wants to do what she can to ensure that future is bright.

Shortly after Gore joined the APSU faculty in 1982, she became a leader in initiating an effort to begin a Head Start Program in Clarksville. It was an uphill struggle, but she kept pushing, pushing. Today, thanks to her, Clarksville has a Head Start Program.

Establishing Headstart wasn't enough; she served on its board of directors for years.
Gore also was involved in establishing Tree House of Clarksville and served as a board member for many years after Tree House was begun.

When she began to look within her own place of employment, she became acutely aware of the need for quality child care for APSU student-parents. Although always deflecting attention from herself, she was one of the primary “on-campus movers and shakers” who ultimately birthed the Child Learning Center (CLC).

Gore worked closely with Dr. Phil Weast, former vice president for student affairs, to establish and set up an on-campus childcare facility that has proved itself to be an invaluable student service, especially in light of APSU's large population of nontraditional students.

Gore knew in her heart that, in addition to being helpful for student-parents, the CLC would be good for the children. Not only would they have excellent care, the mothers and children would be able to be together during the day, as class and study schedules allowed.

From the very beginning, Gore had a crystal-clear vision for a preschool curriculum predicated on the concept that a child's love of learning is nourished through joyful play.

In her years of working with preschool children, Gore had witnessed too many toddlers who showed subtle signs of stress because well-meaning parentseager to give their children a jump-startwere pushing them too hard to learn ABCs, colors, shapes. Because of Gore's prescribed curriculum, “Play is a child's work” became the foundation for the CLC.

What is perhaps most important is that Gore has passed on her love for children to the hundreds of early-childhood graduates whom she taught at APSU. Over the years, she has watched her own students carry her teaching philosophy into classrooms throughout the state, nation and world.

Talking about this phenomenon, she says she wants her influence to be like a pebble tossed into a large pond, creating small circles that get larger and larger as they ripple outward. The same metaphor applies to how she views her contributions to society: She wants to be a person who made the most of a priceless opportunity to touch the lives of other teachers who, in turn, through their teaching have had a major impact on the lives of thousands of children.

To ensure her work will continue, Gore and her husband, Forrest, have begun a scholarship endowment at APSU. Not surprising, the scholarships will be designated for early-childhood education students. “Preschool though grades three or four is the most critical time for children,” Gore says. “That's when much of what they will do and become is determined.”

She talks about how important APSU is to the state and region. “There are literally hundreds of Austin Peay graduates who are teachers, principals and guidance counselors throughout the state, nation and even the world,” she says. “Without APSU, these schools would not have such fine education professionals.”

As an example, Gore cites a letter to her from a high school principal in Germany. One of Gore's former students teaches in his high school, and he was writing to commend the excellent training she obviously had received through Austin Peay's education program.

Even before Gore began building a scholarship endowment, she supported other needs of the University. “Austin Peay is not only important to the community, it's important to those who work here,” she says. “Austin Peay is a gift to me: I cannot imagine anything better than to work here where we help students every day in so many ways.”

One of the more visible ways she's trained student-teachers is her work to establish APSU's 21st Century Classrooms. She led the effort not only in selecting classroom study-materials but also in choosing desk design, computer monitors, white boards, teacher's station. And much of the equipment was donated to APSU by various companies through Gore's personal solicitations.

At that time, the 21st Century Classrooms were so “cutting edge,” they were featured in a full-color, three-page article in “The Chronicle of Higher Education.”

Gore's office on the second floor of the Claxton Building reflects her bright personality. Books on early-childhood education line the walls, while cabinets hold hundreds of files, all representing personal stories of struggles and successes.

On one wall are numerous plaques for honors she's received: Award for 21 years as Kappa Delta Pi (education honorary) counselor, Distinguished Professor Award, Richard M. Hawkins Award, Clarksville Chamber of Commerce Faculty Community Service Award and on and on.

And like any good early-childhood teacher, Gore has a large bulletin board on the wall behind her desk. It, too, tells a story: There are several photos of Gore with some of her APSU students and photos of Gore with preschool children whom she's tested or taught.

One photo depicts Gore with a former student-teacher who now is the director of Head Start at Fort Campbell. The two women are kneeling on either side of a beaming four-year-old boy, who seems to have found a happy place in the world, partially through the women's joint efforts.

A verse tacked to the board perhaps reveals what's of highest importance to Dolores Gore:
A hundred years from now,
It will not matter
What my bank account was
The sort of house I lived in
Or the kind of clothes I wore.
But the world may be different
Because I was important
In the life of a child.