September 25, By Tara Law
A Jackson Heights intersection will be co-named later this week for the late Dr. Dolores Beckham, the longtime principal of Joseph Pulitzer Middle School I.S. 145.
The intersection at 80th Street and 34th Avenue, down the road from 33-34 80th Street school, will be co-named Dr. Dolores Beckham Way this Thursday at 4 pm.
Beckham was the principal at I.S. 145 from 1999 until her death last year at 62.
As a principal, Beckham embraced the neighborhood’s multiculturalism.
According to niece Cynthia Bryant, one of Beckham’s proudest achievements was establishing a dual English and Spanish language program at the school.
Beckham, whose mother came from Puerto Rico, had personally benefited from learning English as a second language, having grown up in a family that spoke Spanish at home. She did not learn English until she arrived at school.
In 2015, I.S. 145 was one of 15 schools named by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña as a Model Dual Language Program.
Beckham travelled overseas each summer so she could learn more about the backgrounds of her students. She visited countries such as China because she wanted to become better informed about different cultures of her diverse students, Bryant said. Upon her return, she would conduct workshops with faculty to share the insights she had gathered.
She was awarded a Fulbright in 2008 and attended education and leadership conferences around the world, according to her LinkedIn Account.
Bryant said that these efforts are evidence of her dedication to her school.
“She wanted to have that wealth of knowledge for her students,” Bryant said. “Her entire life was devoted to others. Even when she was ill, there was nothing more that she wanted than to be with her students.”
Beckham’s funeral went on for three days to accommodate the large attendance, said Bryant. Guests flew in from California and Brazil to commemorate her life.
For ten years, Beckham also served as an adjunct professor in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) division of St. John’s University.
The renaming ceremony will be held on the 28th from 4 to 5 p.m. Council Member Daniel Dromm and Joseph Pulitzer Middle School, I.S. 145 will be in attendance.