New school to be named after former CR superintendent

DOVER — Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, superintendent of the Caesar Rodney School District, knew exactly who he wanted to name the new school after following its groundbreaking ceremony in early August.
But, he didn’t quite come out and say it.

However, Dr. Fitzgerald’s quiet wish came true on Tuesday night. That’s when the Caesar Rodney School Board voted 4-0 (with one member not present) to officially name the new $26 million elementary school.
“After thoughtful deliberation, the school board chose to name the elementary school being built on Briarbush Road the ‘David E. Robinson Elementary School,’” Dr. Fitzgerald said.

“As a teacher, administrator, mentor and superintendent, he became synonymous with the quality of education that our community has come to expect at Caesar Rodney.
“Also, during the process, the school board came to understand the other things that Dr. Robinson contributed to the greater Caesar Rodney community, particularly his outreach to those in need.

“It was through his vision that the district came to purchase the land that the school that will bear his name is being built on.
“I believe that with all that Dr. Robinson has done for the students, the district and the community — he is truly deserving of having the school named after him.”

With this honor Dr. Robinson joins Dr. F. Niel Postlethwait in being the only two individuals recognized in the Caesar Rodney School District with a school being named in their honor during their lifetime.
“Building this school requires the cooperation of many and is a total team effort,” Dr. Robinson said, at the elementary school’s groundbreaking. “You have a plan, you have a vision and then you have to implement that and then go to the community to get the funding, and in this case get more funding, so it takes a real team effort and I congratulate the board leadership and Dr. Fitzgerald for making this school happen.

“I pray that this school is a place that is loving and nurturing and will educate many, many thousands of kids throughout the term of its life.”
Dr. Robinson wore many hats during a 34-year career with the Caesar Rodney School District, serving as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal and superintendent.
“Anytime you name a building it’s one of those keynote things that’s there forever,” Dr. Fitzgerald said in August. “It’s important when we name it that we get it right and I know who I would like to see it named after, but I don’t get a vote.”

Dr. David E. Robinson speaking at the school’s August groundbreaking.

Dr. Robinson started with CR in 1967 as a driver education teacher at the high school. In March 1976, he was hired as an assistant principal at Caesar Rodney High School, a position he held until August 1987, when he was appointed the school’s principal.
In 1998, he was selected by the board of education to assume the position of superintendent. He retired from the district in 2004.
Construction on the David E. Robinson Elementary School is scheduled to be completed by December 2020. The new 63,012 square foot school will be inhabited by about 600 students from first through fifth grade. The project is the realization of a multi-year exploration and design effort.

Ariadna Castaneda, of Rehoboth Beach, wrote in a letter to the Delaware State News that it was a fitting tribute for Dr. Robinson and that he served as an inspiration to her.
“I have been fortunate to have wonderful people who had positively impacted my life,” Ms. Castaneda wrote. “One of those individuals whom I admire and forever be grateful is Dave Robinson. When I read about the wonderful news, I was elated. Dr. Robinson was my principal and mentor.

“He always gave me words of encouragement. I think deep inside he knew that having a physical disability like I did, might be seen as somewhat of a challenge for others. Yet, he believed that based on my qualifications I could be a great leader for any organization. Thanks, Dave, for believing! Dave Robinson deserves to have a school name after him. I, for one, say what a great day today is to honor a man who has touched so many lives.”
Several people in attendance at that summer groundbreaking said the new elementary school was the brainchild of Dr. Robinson.

Connie Welde, who was the president of the Caesar Rodney School Board in 1999 when the idea of a school in Magnolia took off, credited Dr. Robinson with having the vision for it.
“It wasn’t (the school board’s) vision, it was Dave’s vision,” she said, of the former CR superintendent. “He comes in and says, ‘Well, we have this opportunity to buy some land,’ and we all looked at him and we went, ‘Land?’ And he started talking and he said, ‘This area (Magnolia) is exploding.’

“(Dr. Robinson) convinced us to put land into the referendum (in 1999). It was really his decision.”
It turned out to be quite a vision considering all the subdivisions and houses that have been built since that time two decades ago in the Magnolia area.
The Magnolia Elementary School project was part of the 2016 capital referendum and is the first new elementary school in the Caesar Rodney School District since Nellie H. Stokes Elementary was opened in 2004.
Jessica Marelli, current CR school board president, said at the school’s groundbreaking that she can already see positive things in the school’s future.

“The project that we are here to celebrate is more than just a brick building,” she said. “It will be a safe and loving home away from home for so many children in years to come. This would not be possible without the incredible Caesar Rodney staff of educators, secretaries, custodians, and administrators who will fill the halls of the building.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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