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Dalley shines in small-town community

Deb Dalley, a first-grade teacher at Waldron Elementary School, was the Facebook contest winner for TSN’s inaugural “Celebrity of the Month” contest.

By JEFF BROWN - jbrown@shelbynews.com

No church relationships were damaged in the making of this contest.

The Shelbyville News staged its first “Celebrity of the Month” contest in September through an online voting poll on its Facebook page. The first two nominated contestants were Deb Dalley, a first-grade teacher at Waldron Elementary School, and Father Mike Keucher of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Shelbyville.

As the month progressed, Dalley’s vote totals pulled away from Keucher’s and she was declared the inaugural winner.

“He immediately said, ‘Deb, will we still be friends after this?” laughed Dalley, who attends St. Joseph’s and would have no problem finishing runner-up to Father Mike. “He is the most awesome priest ever.”

Dalley credits Father Mike, who has been at St. Joe’s since July of 2017, for making her a better person, which is no small feat in itself.

“If he says it, it will be,” said Dalley. “He preaches so practical. He tells stories that stick with you because they are so good. I cannot tell you enough good things about Father Mike.”

While Father Mike inspires his congregation, Dalley influences her community – in so many ways if you listen carefully. If something good has happened in Waldron, located in southeastern Shelby County, Dalley probably was involved. 

The veteran teacher of both kindergarten and first grade over the years, Dalley has also been involved in the school system’s athletic boosters, parent-teacher organization and anything else she can be a volunteer. She also is a prominent member of Waldron’s Hometown Committee and the uplifting organization Waldron Will.

“Hometown Committee is about making our little town nicer,” she explained. “Waldron Will is the big thing. The Fourth of July (celebration) brings people here ... it gives the town something to be proud of. It makes the town a little better known.”

Dalley followed her mother’s footsteps into education, settling on teaching a variety of subjects to young minds rather than focusing on one particular area. Over three decades, she has been in and around her hometown’s school system in a variety of roles. 

This year, she has 18 students in her first grade class – and a whole building full of students that come back to see her.

“This is kind of my life,” she smiled and said as more children stopped by for information or to show off a new skill while talking about her newest celebrity status with TSN.

With three grown children, Dalley has time to devote to Waldron. Her goal each day is to make it a little bit better, even with a little help from Father Mike.

“He had made me a better person and I try hard to be a better person because I grew up with a bunch of nuns who were good, loving, wonderful role models, who taught you to take care of the people in your path,” she said.

Another of her influences is Mother Teresa.

“She is such an inspiration to me because it’s all about the small things,” said Dalley. “I can’t go save the world but, maybe, I can help somebody in my class or in my community. And if I can’t help them, maybe I can find someone that can.”

The Shelbyville News’ second “Celebrity of the Month” competition is ongoing for the month of October. Go to TSN’s Facebook page, find the competition and vote for either Warren Robison or Doug Cassidy.