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Amazing Woman of the Suncoast: Dorothye Smith

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Dorothye Smith was born in Clearwater in 1926. Her grandmother insisted she go to college.

"She was a midwife and she was always interested in education, even though she didn't have the opportunity for as much education as she desired. She wanted all her grand kids to become educated."

And so she sent Dorothye to Bethune Cookman College in Dayton after graduation. The founder of the college, Mary Bethune, recommended Dorothye for a teaching position at Booker.

"I stayed here for several years at Booker teaching fourth grade until the initial stages of integration."

She was sent to Venice Elementary School; reluctantly, and as one of the first black teachers in a white school, she relied on her grandmothers advice.

"I worried sometimes about people accepting me in certain conditions. She said people accept you if you accept them and if you like their children they'll like you."

And her grandmother was right. After returning to Sarasota as a reading specialist, she was appointed interim principal at Venice Elementary School. In 1971, she was Sarasota County's teacher of the year.

Now retired, Smith is a regular at the Robert L. Taylor community center and volunteers in her church and community.