2000-06-17 / Front Page

MS 180 Slated For A New Name

Mary and Jerry Dever
Mary and Jerry Dever
School Board Honors Gerald Dever’s Memory

In a scheduled open-session meeting on Thursday night, June 15 at Middle School 180, the school board of Community School District 27
was expected to finalize a measure that would rename the school "The Gerald R. Dever Middle School" in honor of the late 180 guidance counselor and Rockaway community activist.

Dever was an educator and longtime resident of Rockaway who extended his role as a guidance counselor outside the hallways of Middle School 180. In May, 1998, Dever succumbed to cancer after battling the disease for many months.

Dever’s involvement in the lives of many young people in Rockaway remains his legacy. Just a few weeks after his death, Dever’s wife, Mary, and son, Michael, were present at a tribute to his memory. Barbara Leventer-Luque, supervisor of guidance for District 27, said at the tribute, "For him, counseling was not just a job -- it was interwoven into his personality and carried over into his life."

Dever had a profound effect on his students. For many, his belief in them gave them hope and motivated them. Some of his students, who had been contemplating dropping out of school, continued on and graduated high school because of Dever’s influence.

Community involvement was essential to Dever. He instilled in his students the satisfaction gained from volunteerism. It was not unusual to find Dever and a group of young people working on a neighborhood clean-up project in the Rockaways on the weekend. As he rolled up his sleeves and worked side by side with the youngsters, he always offered them words of encouragement and advice. He not only shared days of hard work with his students, but days of fun, such as a trip to the NBA Jam to meet the stars.

Although Dever was a seasoned counselor, he was always interested in participating with his students in new programs that might enhance their education and their lives. A city-wide hands-on environmental program, Green Horizons, was established a few years back. Dever got his students involved, with the first event held at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. With no transportation provided, Jerry took his students on trains and buses. He returned back to Rockaway "glowing" about the experience and made the journey the next year to the Central Park Conservancy.

Dever’s love for children could be seen in his relationship with his own son Michael. It was this love that kept Dever alive just a few extra weeks to see his son graduate from college. His final wish was granted.

To perpetuate Dever’s wishes for all youngsters, a scholarship fund had been established in his name for those who have participated in community service and have shown aptitude in academic studies.

To continue to honor Dever’s impact and memory, MS 180 is expected to renamed in his honor.

Mary and Michael Dever remain Rockaway residents. Mary is a teacher in Middle School 198 and frequently has her students participate in community projects. Michael has become an advocate for youth activities in Rockaway and is working to bring a YMCA to the community.

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