Sarasota County Schools Unveils Statue of Groundbreaking Educator

Mrs. Dorothye Smith was the first Black principal hired within the integrated school system in Sarasota County.

By Staff February 8, 2021

Mrs. Dorothye Smith

Mrs. Dorothye Smith

Newtown Alive and Sarasota County Schools this weekend unveiled a bronze plaque cast in the likeness of Mrs. Dorothye Smith that will adorn the front of Southside Elementary School for generations to come. After completing her education at Bethune-Cookman University, Smith began her career in Sarasota teaching African-American fourth graders at Emma E. Booker Elementary School’s original campus in Overtown, the first enclave of the Newtown community. She taught there for 15 years before relocating to Venice Elementary School in the late 1960s during the integration of schools. Smith also spent time teaching at Phillippi Shores Elementary School before becoming the first Black principal hired within the integrated school system in Sarasota County when she assumed leadership of Southside Elementary School. She later served as a reading specialist for the district as well as an administrator at Venice Elementary School before retiring.

Special guests included  Jennifer Nzeza, principal, Southside Elementary School; Walter Gilbert, community engagement, Newtown Alive; Spencer Bryant, brother of Dorothye Smith; Danny Frazier Brown, former employee of Dorothye Smith; Dwana Washington, president, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.; Shirley Brown, chair, School Board of Sarasota County; Dr. Brennan Asplen, superintendent, Sarasota County Schools; Vickie Oldham, director, Newtown Alive, and president/CEO, Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition Inc.

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