Thirteen years ago, Jamie Dockery began her journey as a Kindergarten teacher at Melissa ISD, joining a community that she has since considered her teaching home.
After starting her teaching career in Plano, Dockery came to Melissa in 2006 to teach one of only five Kindergarten classes at the time at what was then the Melissa Ridge Elementary School. Of her 18 students that year, half of the class continued at Melissa Schools. Now seniors, six of those students will graduate from Melissa High School in June.
“Even as big as Melissa is getting, compared to when I started, it’s still home,” said Dockery, who continues to teach Kindergarten, now at Harry McKillop Elementary. “There is a special place in my heart for this town. The feeling, to me, is still the same.”
Kyle Leonard, a senior and former student of Dockery’s, spoke about his experience at Melissa Schools and shared some of his school work from his Kindergarten class, which he remembers included drawing exercises and learning Spanish. He also still has a poem that Mrs. Dockery gave to each student in his class.
“I used to tell my parents that I knew every single kid in school, and that was pretty cool,” Leonard said. “It’s been very close-knit. A lot of people are still here from back then and we all know each other really well. Even if you’re not friends with certain people, you’ve been seeing them for years.”
Leonard is a pitcher on the Melissa Cardinal varsity baseball team and is a member of the Melissa High School Interact Club. After graduation, he plans to study information systems and economics at Southern Arkansas University.
When asked about her former students, Mrs. Dockery recalled a recent unexpected run-in with another senior, who she said immediately recognized her as his Kindergarten teacher while in the middle of working at his food service job. Despite the number of years since the two had last seen each other, Dockery recognized the student, too, and knew him by name.
“I texted everybody I knew,” Dockery said. “It just made my heart so happy that he remembered me, and not in a school setting – just out where he was working. It was awesome.”
Those six seniors from Mrs. Dockery’s first Kindergarten class in Melissa, along with the rest of the Melissa High School senior class of 2019, will walk the stage during their commencement on June 1 at the Allen Event Center. Earlier that week on May 29, the graduates will participate in the annual Senior Walk at Harry McKillop Elementary and North Creek Elementary.
The poem reads:
“You’re a very special person
And I want you to know,
How I loved to be your teacher,
How fast the year did go!
Please come back to visit me
As through the grades you grow,
Try hard to learn all that you can
There is so much to know!
The one thing I tried to teach you
To last your whole life through,
Is to know that you are special
Just because you are you!
Maddie Coe, Community Relations