Q&A The Man Behind the Desk: Principal John Dodig

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Q&A The Man Behind the Desk: Principal John Dodig

Graphic by Z&R designs

Graphic by Z&R designs

Graphic by Z&R designs

Kelsey Shockey, Video Editor

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It’s how all Staples students start their days: a reliable smile and nod from Principal John Dodig in the lobby. A few hours later, you can be sure to spot him outside the cafeteria. If he isn’t chatting with another student or teacher, you’ll most definitely receive a “Hello” or even a handshake.

It’s practically part of the Staples experience to see Principal Dodig in these two places each and every day—but what is his life like outside of the building?

Inklings recently had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Dodig, who shared part of his story.

Q: What have you done in the past with regard to teaching and your other interests?

A: I spent a year and a half teaching college students in Baghdad, Iraq. Part of my job was placing aspiring teachers in schools throughout Baghdad. Most of these schools were little mud buildings where kids sat on the ground and wrote on tablets. At times, the temperature in those buildings reached 120 degrees. Through most of my years as a teacher and assistant principal, I performed in musical theater productions for the Shoreline Community Theater in the Guilford-Madison-Clinton area. I had the lead role in most of the well-known musicals from the 1950s and 1960s.

Q: When and why did you decide to be a principal?

A: Although I did not realize it at the time, it was because of my fourth and fifth grade teacher, Mr. Wilner, that I became a teacher. He was a warm, caring, strong man who taught us how to read music, to play the tonette [a version of a recorder], and to love science. As an adult, when I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do with my life, I felt a strong pull towards becoming a teacher.

Q: What are your favorite hobbies outside of school?

A: I don’t play any sport. I don’t gamble. I don’t play cards. I like to cook, go to the theater and listen to music. For example, I think I’ve attended every single live concert that Rufus Wainwright has held in the New York City area in the past seven years.

Q: How has your past affected you today and how do you think it will affect your future?

A: My experiences living and working in Baghdad and then hitchhiking around the world taught me to appreciate the diversity of cultures. People born in a particular country and who have never traveled elsewhere think that their beliefs and their way of life is the best—it’s human nature to think that way. The only way to change your opinion is through education and first-hand experiences. Most people on earth want their children to have a better life than they have. In some countries, that means their children will have more chickens or goats or water buffalo than the parents have. In this country, it means something entirely different. I’ve learned to look beyond the exterior of a person and attempt to find who he or she really is as a human being.

Q: What is your chief goal or something that you truly would like to accomplish at or around Staples?

A: I hope that by the time I leave Staples, the paradigm shift in how students learn and how teachers teach will be complete. At some point in the future, well past my tenure, in order for seniors to graduate from Staples, they will have to stand before a panel of judges and demonstrate that they can actually do something useful, creative or unique with what they have learned over four years. My personal goal is to travel to Sydney, Australia for Mardi Gras.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I am one of those adults who luckily made a wise decision many years ago to do something that I truly enjoy doing. Watching high school students grow up before my eyes and leave us at graduation more confident in who they are and what they want to be is very gratifying to me. I am a lucky man.

 

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