By Bill Parry
Jackson Heights honored the life and legacy of a beloved school principal who died one year ago. The corner of 80th Street and 34th Avenue has been co-named Dr. Dolores Beckham Way in tribute to the late leader of IS 145, the Joseph Pulitzer School, who began her stint in 1999.
Beckham lost her battle with cancer at age 62 on Oct. 5, 2016, surrounded by loving family and friends.
Many of them joined students, faculty, community leaders and elected officials in gathering just a few feet from the school last Friday for the special naming ceremony. Beckham was a 38-year veteran educator with the New York City Department of Education and a resident of Jackson Heights. For nearly two decades, she was the principal at IS 145, a large multi-cultural school where 35 different languages are spoken.
“Dr. Dolores Beckham was a Jackson Heights icon,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “She was an exemplary educator. Thanks to her visionary leadership, IS 145’s dual language program became one of the best in the city and served as a model for other schools. Dr. Beckham’s hard work and dedication took IS 145 to new heights, and I am pleased to host this co-naming in her honor.”
Beckham was also an adjunct professor at St. John’s University where she worked with Masters Level Educators in refining their teaching practices. She furthered her learning and career by traveling and teaching around the world. She was selected as a Fulbright Award Winning Principal in 2008.
“Principal Beckham was a woman of vision, an excellent educator who spent her entire professional career fighting for a quality public education for all students,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “When people were skeptical about dual-language programs, she transformed IS 145 into a model for other schools. With the co-naming of the Jackson Heights street, she will always be a part of our history. Her legacy will never be forgotten.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr