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Mildred Avenue principal is ‘a neighborhood gem’

Bridgit Brown
Mildred Avenue principal is ‘a neighborhood gem’
Deborah Dancy grew up on Mildred Avenue and three months ago became the principal at the Mildred Avenue K-8 School. (Photo: Mildred Avenue School)

Though Dr. Deborah Dancy has only been principal of Mattapan’s Mildred Avenue K-8 School for a little over three months, she is no stranger to the neighborhood.

Dancy grew up on Mildred Avenue, just five doors down from the school.  “Coming back here,” she said, “is like coming back home.”   

Her parents moved to Mildred Avenue in 1969. Growing up, she saw the location of the school become home to many things.  

“I remember when it was a lumberyard, a manufacturing plant and even a candy factory,” she said. “It’s amazing to see it all transform. Now it’s a principal’s dream and a child’s wonderland.”

Mildred Avenue is a state-of-the-art school building that opened in 2003. The school has a gym, lots of classrooms, a dance studio, computer labs on every floor, a fully stocked library, an art and media center for photography, a competition-sized swimming pool with balcony seating, a staged auditorium and a recording studio.

“Every door in this building opens up to something new,” said Dancy. “For example, you walk into the music room and you think it’s just one room, but when you open the doors you find that there are studios in the back for children to rehearse. There are dressing rooms in the back with full lighting. I’m looking forward to making good use of those resources. This school was developed to be the gem of Mattapan and to help empower the residents in this neighborhood.”

Dancy is a neighborhood gem, and a proud veteran of the Boston Public Schools. She was one of the first girls to graduate from Boston Technical High School in 1974.

Professionally, she began her college career at Lesley College and has been a lifelong learner since, attending Boston University, University of Massachusetts, Northeastern University, Harvard University, Suffolk University Law School and Nova-Ashwood University,  where she received her doctorate of education administration.

After graduating from college, she returned to the BPS and worked as a teacher, a department head and then a principal. Prior to coming to Mildred Avenue, she was principal at the Channing Elementary School.

In addition to her teaching and educational credentials, Dancy has an extensive theater and arts background that made it possible for her to work with students across the disciplines through the arts.

“The children at Mildred Avenue are high-energy, full of passion, they have a lot of rhythm and a lot of curiosity,” she said. “I’m very excited about being able to take and turn that into something productive.”

Of the more than 700 students that attend Mildred Avenue K-8 School, 74 percent are black, 23 percent are Hispanic, 1 percent is white and 1 percent is Asian.

The school also houses the Mildred Avenue Community Center, which makes its resources accessible to the community.