Her great-grandfather, Theodore Dansby, began his career in education in the late 1930’s. He worked at Edward Waters College, Florida’s first independent institution of higher learning as well as the state’s first institution established for the education of Black people. He was the head of student loans, welfare and college placement at EWC. He was also a part of the summer teaching staff at both Bethune College and Florida A&M University and, for several years, he was a principal for schools in Miami, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Leesburg and Live Oak. While the professional world knew him as an educator, to his family, Dansby was much more than that.
“He was our patriarch,” said Palmer.
Dansby’s devotion to education and higher learning ignited a passion that would transcend through generations.
Theodora Dansby Johnson, Dansby’s daughter, was both a jazz singer and an educator. For 33 years, she was a music teacher at Miami-Dade County Public Schools. After retiring, she taught music to children at Christ the King Preschool during the day and, at night, to students at Florida International University.
Her daughter and Palmer’s mother, Sondra Julien, also has an impressive resume in education. She was a teacher in Miami-Dade County, she served as an administrative assistant to Miami-Dade College’s vice president and, some time after that, she became the director of community services and continuing education at Broward Community College.
“Education has always been extremely important to our family. Attending college never seemed optional; it was expected,” said Palmer.
Now, she and her daughter continue their family’s education legacy at Westminster Christian School. Palmer’s daughter, Anastasia Casimir, now a fifth-generation educator, teaches math and engineering.
“I’m so proud of the contributions that my family has made in education and Black history. Today, my daughter and I proudly continue the passion for learning that was instilled by my great-grandfather so many years ago,” said Palmer.