Proud parents carried their new babies into the gym at Fulton Elementary School in Dubuque on Monday as their co-workers gathered to see them.
All eight infants are the children of Fulton staff members and were born over a seven-month stretch during the recently concluded school year. They wore matching onesies that read, “FULTON BABY BOOM 2018-2019.”
“The joke was not to drink the Fulton water because everyone was getting pregnant,” said Shannon Anderson, a special education teacher whose daughter, Adalyn, was born in September.
Among the Dubuque Community School District’s campuses, Fulton had the highest number of babies born to staff members in the 2018-2019 school year, according to district officials.
At Fulton, it is typical for one or two staff members to give birth over the course of a year, Principal Chris Nugent said.
“It was a little bit of panic at first, but I knew we’ve got some good substitutes, and it made me feel comfortable,” she said. She added, “I felt like we were as proactive as we could be.”
On Monday, the parents of the babies brought them together on the teachers’ last day for the just-finished school year.
As the parents lined up in order of the ages of their children, their co-workers clambered to snap pictures, standing on tables and trying to get the babies’ attention.
“It was cool seeing how they’re all fairly close in age, but just a few months makes a difference,” said Kale McCormick, a physical education teacher whose daughter, Shaylee, was born in March.
All eight babies were born between the start of September and the end of March, Nugent said. McCormick was the lone male staff member to have his family grow during the school year. The other seven staff members are women — five teachers, one school counselor and one home/school liaison.
Fulton has 65 staff members, 34 of whom are teachers, according to the district.
Nugent said the births were spread out enough that one substitute was able to fill in for three teachers, and another staffer had a student teacher who was able to fill in.
“We were really lucky that we had really good coverage,” Nugent said.
School counselor Mandie Leytem was in her first year working at the school when she had her daughter, Brielle, in December.
“When I told Chris, the principal, she was like, ‘We’ll just add you to the list,’” Leytem said.
She said it was exciting to watch her co-workers go through the experience of having a child. Leytem is a first-time mom, and she said she enjoyed having co-workers to talk to about what they were experiencing.
The school’s students also enjoyed getting to guess the names and sexes of the babies.
“The students thought it was like the coolest thing ever,” Leytem said.
Preschool teacher Ellyn Holzhuter was the last of the staffers to have a baby this school year. Her daughter, Madelyn, was born on St. Patrick’s Day.
She said she and McCormick had a running joke about whose baby would be born last and that staff members shared in the excitement of wondering whether each baby would be a boy or a girl.
“We got to be a lot closer with so many of us going through the same experiences,” Holzhuter said.
She said staff had talked a few times about trying to get all of the babies together at once.
“Getting to see them all today and seeing where ... she’s going to be in a couple months was kind of cool,” she said.