published Thursday, January 6th, 2011, updated Jan. 6th, 2011 at 3:58 p.m.

Dalton High to dismiss early Friday for teacher's funeral

by Adam Crisp
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Ike Smith

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Abigail Rodriguez

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Naomi Hurtado

Dalton High School will dismiss at 1 p.m. Friday so students and faculty may attend funeral services for English teacher Demera Robinson, the school system said Thursday afternoon.

Robinson was killed shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday when her SUV struck the rear of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 75 near the Rocky Face exit, according to the Georgia Highway Patrol.

Some of her students said Robinson was like a mom to them.

Her classroom was cozy like a home, students said. While sharing English lessons, she dispensed hugs and desk-side counseling. She cheered students for successes and rallied classmates to prop up struggling friends.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press A wreath hangs outside of Dalton High School in memory of teacher Demera Robinson, who was killed Tuesday in a car crash.

Three students who studied under Robinson said Wednesday they are committed to carrying on one big dream they share with their deceased teacher.

"We talked so much during freshman and sophomore years about her being there to watch us graduate, and I don't want to even think about her not being there," said 18-year-old Ike Smith.

Robinson was part of a mentor program -- Advancement Via Individual Determination -- designed for students who could be the first generation in their families to graduate from high school and go on to college.

The first set of Dalton High's AVID students will graduate this spring. Most are planning to go to college in the fall, Associate Principal Steve Bartoo said.

Robinson's students said their ambition for that goal is renewed. They felt a strong bond with her and they wanted to achieve great things because of her high expectations.

"We would do anything to make her happy, in this life or the next, and I would never want her to be sad, so, of course, I'm going to graduate," Smith said.

For Robinson, getting her students graduated and into college "was what she was always working for," said Naomi Hurtado, 17.

"If one of us failed, she said we all failed. So we all had to keep each other on the right track like a family."

Robinson also was as an adviser to the student council and organized the prom each year, among other activities.


A Demera Robinson Memorial Scholarship has been formed. To donate, send contributions to Dalton High School, 1500 Manly St., Dalton, GA 30720.

"I'm still in shock," said Abigail Rodriguez, 17. "I don't like even thinking about her not being there. I don't think we're going to be able to go back to her classroom for a long time."

Teachers will miss her, too, said Melissa Quick, who taught alongside Robinson for eight years.

Together, the women would hang decorations for the prom. Before each prom, they'd buy formal wear together and do each other's hair and make-up.

"She was my date to prom for eight years," Quick said. "I don't know how I'm going to get through it this year. Her absence is going to be noticed so much because she was so involved in everything."

Robinson's funeral is planned for 2 p.m. Friday at Dalton First Presbyterian Church. The family will take visitors today after 5 p.m. at Julian Peeples Funeral Home in Rocky Face.

about Adam Crisp...

Adam Crisp covers education issues for the Times Free Press. He joined the paper's staff in 2007 and initially covered crime, public safety, courts and general assignment topics. Prior to Chattanooga, Crisp was a crime reporter at the Savannah Morning News and has been a reporter and editor at community newspapers in southeast Georgia. In college, he led his student paper to a first-place general excellence award from the Georgia College Press Association. He earned ...

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drrfling said...

"The 34-year-old married mother of four's vehicle struck the rear of a tractor-trailer near the Rocky Face exit, according to Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright." That was the only sentence in the lengthy article on an accident in which Demora Robinson was clearly AT FAULT, unless the State Patrol has anything to say otherwise. There is no question that Mrs. Robinson was an exceptionally good teacher. But that belongs to a DIFFERENT article about her, not about her fatal accident! That is part of the ill-focused sickness of this society. The City of Dalton frivolously wrote me a speeding ticket, not for SAFETY reasons, but for the city revenue, ignorning the FACT that I had not a single accident chargeable to me in over 50 years of diving! Now when there was a FATAL accident, the article should talk about DRIVE SAFETY issus regardless whether Mrs. Robinson is a good or bad teacher.

January 6, 2011 at 11:28 a.m.
Yep_I_Said_It said...

"There is no question that Mrs. Robinson was an exceptionally good teacher. But that belongs to a DIFFERENT article about her, not about her fatal accident! That is part of the ill-focused sickness of this society."

The "ill-focused sickness of this society" is usually represented by the constant reporting of all the "bad" that happens everyday (i.e. the details of a fatal accident or your negative opinion of the City of Dalton). This article, thankfully, was not of that nature but rather pays homage to a teacher that obviously made a great impact on her students.

January 6, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.
drrfling said...

Yep_I_Said_It missed the point completely.

To get away from the emotional issue involved in Mrs. Robinson's case, let's consider two hypothetical cases of exceptionally good teachers whose fatalities were caused by THEIR unlawful acts.

Mrs. Jones was DUI in excessive speed, causing her car to hit the rear of a tractor-trailer, resulting in her fatality.

Mrs. Smith was underpaid as a school teacher and resorted to an armed-robbery of a bank, and was fatally shot by the security guards of the bank.

Whether those were "worthy to be reported" is not the issue. My point was simply if those fatalities were reported, it was grossly inappropriate to glorify the TEACHING of those victims rather than discuss their unlawful acts that caused their fatality.

I rest my case.

January 6, 2011 at 8:02 p.m.
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