ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) It wasn’t how the district expected to start the first day of the school year, Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Christopher Himsel explained. Before the school day even started, a beloved elementary school teacher was struck and killed by a semi on Interstate 469.
The teacher’s name was Christ Dodane. He was ready to teach second grade at Cedar Canyon Elementary School. But while the district is still grieving, there remains hope in a new school year with new possibilities.
During the last school year, superintendents from all four districts in the area met to discuss school funding. State lawmakers eventually passed the state’s new budget plan, which directed slightly more than half of its $31 billion toward K-12 education, according to the Associated Press.
“Our school district was very fortunate in the last budget in that we did receive additional funding, which has been a huge help for us,” Himsel said.
The district has been able to restore about 15 positions that were cut a few years ago. The additional staff has allowed for smaller class sizes in the elementary schools, along with adding courses in bio-medical science for high school students.
“We have not met all of our needs but we are definitely closer to being able to meet the needs of our kids than we were last fall…,’ Himsel added.
While those positive changes can make the new school year more exciting, the district knows the heavy hearts from the tough start of the year should not be ignored.
“I think under the conditions we are doing extremely well. The first day of school was not the way any of us had it written or planned,” Himsel said. “But our staff is doing as well as they can be, we’re making sure our students come first, we’re making sure kids’ needs are being met and we’re excited about being able to celebrate Mr.Dodane’s life.”
Cedar Canyon Elementary School plans to provide fundraising opportunities to help start a fund for Dodane’s children.
The elementary school is not the only school who has lost a staff member early in the year. The Huntertown school family is also grieving.
“Earlier this week, one of their teachers who had been battling cancer for the last several months, lost her battle with cancer.” Himsel explained. “Again, there are heavy hearts and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family…”