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Wendy Doty

Dr. Wendy Lapour Doty

Dr. Wendy Doty

Over 300 people attended an event in celebration of Downey Unified Schools Superintendent, Dr. Wendy Doty on Saturday. Doty is retiring after serving the school district since 1974. Doty has thirty nine years in the field of education, thirty one of which were with Downey Unified. Doty began her career in education at East Middle school at the age of twenty three as a first year teacher. After a semester at East, Doty went to South Middle School for eight and a half years. Doty said, “After South, I moved on to the district as a teacher specialist, and then got my administrative credentials and got hired as a Vice Principal at Warren High.”  That was followed with the Principle position at Griffiths Jr. High. Doty then went back to the district offices as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction K-12, and did that for seven years.

After getting her Doctorate Degree she left the Downey School District for a while, moving on to Laguna Beach as their Assistant Superintendent for three years and then went to El Segundo as their Superintendent for two years, before returning to the Downey Unified School District as Superintendent, or as Doty puts it, “Coming back home.”


Wendy Doty as a new teacher

Wendy Doty started her career in Downey

An event was thrown in honor of Dr. Doty’s retirement. 300 of Doty’s friends and colleagues attended including the Mayor and the City Council, all of the School Board members, representatives from Cerritos Collage and the President of Cerritos collage. Doty said, “So many of my friends were there, retired and currently working, even my collage roommate was there!” Also attending were retired PD Chiefs Rick Esteves and Roy Campos along with current Police Captain Steve Garza. “I have always had a very special relationship with the Police Chief” Doty said. The four hour event was filled with heartfelt appreciation for Doty from everyone who attended. Doty said, “I greeted and spoke to everyone. It took almost the entire time to get to all of them. It was a thrill to see everyone and it was so nice of them to come.”

Doty Unveiling

Mayor Guerra and the City Council presented Dr. Doty with tile, and there was a special presentation from retired PD Chiefs, Rick Esteves, Roy Campos and Captain Steve Garza representing the Downey Police Department. “The fact that they all came to honor my retirement, was very touching to me” Doty said. Mayor Guerra said of Doty, “Her legacy will be felt for many generations in Downey. She made a huge difference in so many lives. Our Community has been blessed to have her leading our children and young adults for so many years. Dr. Doty was the true genesis of Downey being a Character Counts community. She has been an inspiration and we will miss her dearly . We thank her for all she has done for our City.”

Michael Josephson from Character Counts and the Josephson Institute attended and spoke on his appreciation for all that Doty has done, especially bringing the Character Counts program to the Downey schools.

The Downey Board of Education voted to rename East Middle School after Dr. Wendy Doty. Doty said, “That is as high of an honor as you could possibly get!” Doty also said that she never could have imagined when she had her very first teaching job at the age of 23 at East, that that school would one day be named after her. Doty continued, “I am absolutely thrilled and so appreciative of the School Board.”


The Mock-Up of the sign at Doty Middle School in honor of Dr. Wendy Doty

When I asked Doty what she was going to do now that she is retired, she smiled and said, “Have fun! I am going to travel, I have a trip planned to Great Britain next fall and a year from now I am going to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. And my son is getting married in May, and that is the reason I am going now because the reception is at my house!”

Good luck and happy travels to you Wendy from the Downey Beat, and I’m sure the entire city of Downey is appreciative for all that you have done for us. God Bless.

DOWNEY – In recognition of Dr. Wendy Doty’s service to the Downey Unified School District, the school board voted last month to rename East Middle School after the outgoing superintendent who started her teaching career at the campus nearly 30 years ago.

“A number of us thought of it once she announced her retirement,” said Donald LaPlante, president of the DUSD board of education. “We named buildings after the last three superintendents that retired so we all thought of it.”

Interestingly enough, history reveals that the DUSD has a habit of naming its schools after local educators who have helped shape the legacy of the school district.

Before Downey schools consolidated under one unified school district, the city was split up into several districts with elementary, middle, and high schools under different jurisdictions.

During his tenure, Elbert Warren Ward provided sound leadership and vision for the growing Alameda School District.

In 1923, Ward became principal at Alameda Elementary School and would leave a lasting legacy at the school and the district.

After more than 15 years at Alameda Elementary, Ward went on to become the superintendent of the Alameda School District, ultimately retiring in 1955. But of all the elementary districts in Downey, Alameda grew to become the largest.

In honor of Ward, the E.W. Ward Elementary School was opened in 1952. The Alameda District also oversaw the construction of the Ed Lewis School in 1950, C.C. Carpenter School in 1952, and A. L. Gauldin School in 1956. Imperial School, named after the street it runs along, opened in 1954.

The Downey District meanwhile added Spencer V. Williams School, named in honor of a local educator, and Rio San Gabriel School, which was constructed near a river of the same name, in 1952. Years earlier, Rio Hondo Elementary School, named for the eponymous river nearby, was built along Rives Avenue.

Founded by early settlers that once occupied north Downey, Gallatin Elementary School was moved in 1893 to the site it still occupies today on the corner of Brookshire Avenue and Gallatin Road.

From 1937 to 1942, Maude Price and Edith Unsworth were the only teachers at Gallatin Elementary School. During this time, Mrs. Unsworth taught the lower grades and Mrs. Price taught the upper grades.

Both Price and Unsworth have schools now bearing their names as a testament to their influence on the Downey education system.

With the influx of new students, new junior high schools were needed. On May 1, 1952, South Junior High School was dedicated as the first separate junior high school. In July of 2001, South was renamed after Dr. Edward Sussman, former DUSD superintendent and principal at the school.

In 1953, students began attending North Junior High School, renamed Gordon Griffiths Middle School in 1966. Griffiths was principal of the school when he died earlier that year. East Junior High School was formed in 1954.

By 1957, a second senior high school, Earl Warren High School, named for United States Chief Justice Earl Warren, and a fourth junior high school, West Junior High School opened their doors.

In 1956, the elementary school districts merged with the Downey Union High School District, which established the junior high schools in the city, to create the Downey Unified School District known today.

When the school board announced its decision to rename East Middle School, LaPlante recalls Doty being quite emotional.

“She was tremendously honored,” he said. “It’s the highest honor as an educator to have a school named after you and East is the school where she started.”

According to LaPlante, the change will take effect starting next school year.

“Over the summer we’ll fix the signs and there will definitely be a ceremony in September where we’ll unveil a plaque,” he said. “Over time, everyone will understand this wasn’t a random choice…students will be very happy once they get to know her.”