Dooleys to depart Highlands
Highlands School and the greater Highlands community will lose two members later this month when Jeremy and Jaime Dooley move with their three kids to Forth Worth, Texas.
Jeremy, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Highlands and Highlands High School assistant boys basketball coach, said as difficult as the move will be, they feel it’s the right one.
“It’s hard to explain to people why you would want to leave somewhere like this, but at the same time I don’t think you can,” he said. “I don’t think you can really put it into words other than you really feel led and called to go somewhere and you go.”
Jaime Dooley, a kindergarten teacher at Highlands School and Highlands Middle School girls volleyball coach, said Highlands is a special place with special people — and consequently a very hard place to leave.
“The first time I ever visited was the weekend that [Jeremy] Dooley proposed,” she said. “We were out in Texas and I came back to meet his family and he had always told me that this was God’s country. He went on and on and on about how amazing and how beautiful it was and we got here and I’m not sure anybody who comes here can disagree with that statement.”
Jeremy and Jaime Dooley both said saying goodbye to the people that make up the tight-knit Highlands community will be the hardest aspect of leaving.
“I love knowing everybody,” Jeremy Dooley said. “I love how you can walk somewhere and you can have a conversation with 20 different people. I honestly love that a trip to Bryson’s takes an hour.”
Part of the community
Highlands High School Athletic Director Brett Lamb said the couple have played a key role at Highlands School in recent years.
“Jaime has been a teacher and volleyball coach that has shown great abilities to nurture the young children that she has come in contact with,” he said. “As the middle school volleyball coach, she was able to build these young ladies up from the basics into conference champions.”
Lamb said Jeremy Dooley has been a big part of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes program and high school boy’s golf and basketball teams.
“He has meant so much to our kids as a coach and a person that they can come to him with any issue or problem either in sports or in life,” Lamb said.
Lamb said his feelings are torn as they set out on this new chapter in their lives.
“I see great opportunities for them professionally and personally with the move to Texas,” he said. “I also have sad feelings that a family in which I am dearly close to is moving away.”
Fans of Mike & Dooley In the Morning, a show started by Jeremy Dooley and Mike Carrier highlighting area news, businesses and residents, need not be disappointed.
“As far as our show goes, we feel like Dooley moving to Texas is just another door opening for us,” Carrier said. “We’ll continue to do our weekly show via split screen and we’ll start broadcasting in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, so they better be prepared.”
Though the show will go on, Carrier said it’s difficult to see Jeremy and Jaime physically leave the area.
“When you look around Highlands you can see the impact that they’ve had all over the place,” he said. “Seems to me that their biggest influence in Highlands and at the school would be on the youth as they have helped spiritually mold and mentor many of them from a very young age.”
In addition to their impact on the school and community, Carrier said the Dooley family has meant a lot to his family on a personal level.
“They are the type of friends that are always there for you and support you, especially in times when you need the most support,” he said. “They have been great to our children and it has been a blessing to have them be a part of their spiritual, academic, personal and athletic growth.”
Called to serve
Jeremy Dooley said the new position in Texas — as a student and family pastor — found him. Despite his initial reluctance to consider it, he and his family eventually came around to the idea.
“I had a friend that’s actually working at this church and she called and said, ‘I want you to be thinking and praying, there’s a job here I think you would fit well in.’ And I basically said, ‘I’m not interested,’” he said. “As they got more serious and as we really began to pray about it and really think about it a whole lot more we decided it was the right move to make.”
Jaime Dooley, who hopes to find a teaching position in Texas, said teaching at a small school like Highlands School has been a unique experience, but “in an awesome way.”
“I’m glad my kids got to have their first few years being a part of it,” she said of Highlands School.
Jeremy Dooley, a graduate of Highlands High School, also spoke fondly of the school and his time there as a student and coach, calling it “a special place.”
“You don’t find many schools where elementary kids are in the same building as high school kids,” he said. “It’s just a unique environment where a kindergartener can see a senior in high school play ball on Friday night and then see you in the halls Monday morning walking to class.”
Dooley said he first discovered his passion for ministry working at First Baptist Church of Highlands after graduating from Western Carolina University.
“I started working with the youth group at First Baptist and I loved every second of it and there was a sense of fulfillment there that I wasn’t getting anywhere else,” he said.
Encouraged by his time spent working at the church, Dooley decided to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, Texas. And there at the seminary, he met Jaime, who was also attending the school and pursuing a career in ministry.
“Little did I know that my ministry would be to be a part of his ministry,” she said.
The two married and worked in Arkansas and Alabama before moving to Highlands about six years ago.
“Jaime and I have always wanted to retire here and we still want to retire here,” Jeremy Dooley said. “This is still home.”