By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The Dearborn Heights District 7 community came together Oct. 17 to honor longtime Annapolis High School teacher Dale Preussner who died Aug. 20 at the age of 76.
Staff, fans, students, administrators and the AHS band gathered on the football field where Preussner’s celebration of life and memorial took place.
Those in attendance were asked to wear blue and gold to represent the high school colors and University of Michigan football, which Preussner loved.
During the tribute, school officials announced they will dedicate a hallway to Preussner naming it Preussner’s Way with a plaque hung in the science area.
Throughout the memorial, Preussner was described as a great man and legendary teacher.
His two favorite sayings were also shared: “It’s never too late to learn,” and “You never know what you don’t know until you know what you don’t know.”
Speeches were given and stories were shared by family, current students, former students as well as district staff during the celebration of life.
Supt. Jennifer Mast said she met Preussner when she began teaching at O.W. Best Middle School 23 years ago. Her first impressions were that he was very quiet and serious.
“The longer I worked with Dale, the more I started to learn about him,” Mast said. “For example, I learned that a shirt and tie could be worn more often than just on parent teacher conference night. Many years later, I also learned that his shirt and tie would look great under a discover the D7 difference T-shirt.
“The best thing I learned about Dale was he didn’t talk much, but when he did I wanted to be listening. I learned quickly that he spoke with purpose, Dale chose his words carefully in all situations — he was wise and he was funny.”
Mast said that she noticed that Preussner’s students also wanted to hear what he wanted to say, not just sitting in his class but after too and that it continued years later.
AHS Assistant Principal Kevin Knerim said a conversation with Preussner really put into perspective that teaching wasn’t just a job for Preussner, but instead a passion.
“One time I asked Dale, ‘When are you going to enjoy life beyond education?’ and he said, ‘I will retire when kids don’t want to learn anymore.’”
Former AHS Principal Dan Scott said that Preussner always did what he needed to for the children and appreciation Preussner’s professionalism.
“Even though there are a lot of times where we as administrators are trying to encourage educators to improve themselves within the profession and sometimes you get a little push back from that — Dale already knew a lot of those things and was doing them in his classroom and didn’t have to be encouraged to do them,” Scott said.
“One of the things that you’re always trying to get educators to do is grab student’s attention and to be on their level and bring them along with you and if you can’t do that, then you really can’t impart much to them. Dale had a knack for being able to do that and that is a sign of a true teacher and someone who understands the art of teaching.”
Preussner taught math, science, drafting and photography in the district for over 52 years beginning his career in September 1968. He dedicated his life to educating students in the district and local community colleges, an AHS Facebook post said at the time.
“He was the all around teacher that would help you with anything and truly cared about every one of his students academically and personally,” the post read. “Mr. Preussner impacted many lives in our community, not just his students but the staff and parents as well. It is a tremendous loss for Annapolis and D7.”
During his time in the district, it is estimated that Preussner had approximately 40,000 students. He also taught math classes at Henry Ford College for 30 years.
Donations to the Dale Preussner Scholarship Fund, created to provide annual scholarships AHS graduating seniors can be mailed to: Annapolis High School 4650 Clippert, Dearborn Heights, MI, 48125, attention: Cheryl Howard.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])