Eleven years ago, Principal John Dodig decided to come out of retirement to take a temporary position as the principal of Staples High School. But now, in his 11th and final year at Staples, his impact on the school has proven to be anything but temporary. Here are the 11 things Dodig has added to his legacy over his 11-year tenure.
Passion for Education
It didn’t take long for Staples students and staff to realize what a perfect fit he was for the job, as he transformed the school through his wise words, passion for education and enthusiastic personality.
Positive and Supportive Environment
Bridget van Dorsten ’15, working through her fourth year at Staples, has certainly gotten to know Dodig as a principal. “He’s always given a positive and supportive outlook for the student body at Staples,” van Dorsten said. “He’s someone who I’ve always felt I can go to if I was worried about something.”
Recognition of Good Deeds
Dodig does a great job of creating a comfortable environment and is always willing to help his students. His best method for creating this environment, is recognizing the simple good deeds of individuals within the student body.
Alumnus Peter Elkind ’14 was recognized for something unlike anything else during his days at Staples. “He brought me into his office and told me he wanted to thank me for my kindness towards a disabled friend of mine and offered me a pair of movie tickets,” Elkind said. Dodig brings a more offbeat way of acknowledging his students, which makes him different from any other principal.
Every Tuesday, during extended period two, Dodig’s voice comes over the P.A. system. He never fails to lead the entire school in a symbol of patriotism, and often afterwards he mentions a current event, such as events in Pakistan or the riots in Ferguson. He keeps students involved, and reminds them of all they have to be grateful for.
Dodig is present at every possible game, cheering louder than anyone else in the stands. He often shows his support by performing in the pep rally with the Staples cheerleaders. At the Pink Out game, Dodig even repped a pink wig in solidarity with his students.
Appreciation for the School Community
“[Dodig] always made sure to show his appreciation towards the school by making it such a friendly environment,” Elkind added. “Dodig over the years has turned those random acts of kindness into legitimate awards that help recognize the ordinary.”
Recognition of Students Who Shine in Different Ways
The roots behind Dodig’s goals and achievements at Staples have been partly because of the way he grew up in high school. He was never someone who stood out. “The star athlete, the lead in the play – they all get into the newspaper. The world is run by ordinary people, and I’ve been an ordinary guy my whole life,” Dodig said.
15 Minutes of Fame
In 2004, Dodig started the “15 Minutes of Fame” segment. The first one focused on a shy student who commuted to Norwalk every day to practice cabinet making in a woodshop. After the segment aired, his mother expressed her sincere gratitude. “She was weeping on the phone, and she said, ‘My son is 17 years old, and he’s never been recognized for anything. He walks with his head held high,’ and I had tears in my eyes,” Dodig said.
Student of the Month
In addition to the segment, Dodig instituted Student of the Month to recognize the students with some hidden talent or other aspect that makes them stand out.
One of current Staples students’ fondest high school memories may likely be seeing Dodig at the apex of a cheerleader pyramid at this year’s fall pep rally. While that might have been the peak of his school spirit, he made an attempt to be at as many extracurricular activities as possible over his career. He frequently shared glowing reviews of Players’ shows and rooted for the girls’ soccer team at their FCIAC bid this year .