Dodig graduates with class of 2015

Dodig graduates with class of 2015

When John Dodig came to Staples as the interim principal, he was expecting to stay for a year while a search for a long-term principal was conducted. That search was canceled and now, 11 years later, he is stepping away from his position at the helm.

Dodig started out as a math teacher at Troup Middle School in New Haven, Connecticut and soon became assistant principal at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Connecticut. He then served as principal at both Cheshire High School and Wilbur Cross High School before spending 11 years as the Headmaster of Fairfield High School (before the school was divided into Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe). As a matter of fact, Dodig actually came out of retirement for his position at Staples.

For the 11 years that Dodig has been here, he has taken a special interest with the students he presides over.

“I believe it’s important for a principal to have a relationship with his or her students, and you can’t do that without a plan,” Dodig said. “My plan is that every morning I’m out there [in the lobby], and I go to lots of events, and I ask kids what their names are and [the relationship] develops itself.”

This has been extremely noticeable and appreciated by the students that Dodig has worked with.

“On one of my first days of school, Principal Dodig walked up to me, introduced himself, asked me what my name was, and he’s always been very supportive,” Nick Massoud ’15 said. “He’s always in the front row [at shows and concerts] and he made me feel like I always had someone in my corner.”

Nick Kveitaia ’15 feels the same way, saying “[Principal Dodig] is always very interested in every student, no matter who they are, and he genuinely cares about us.”

These relationships also helped Dodig create an exceptional sense of community within Staples.

“[Dodig] doesn’t come off as being above his students,” Jack Baylis ’15 said. “I’ve had great conversations with him about everything from sports to theater, and he talks to you as an equal.”

And now after his tenure with SHS, Dodig is re-retiring, having forever left his mark on Staples.

He cites two reasons for his stepping down, saying, “It’s getting more difficult than it’s ever been in my whole life to leave the house after dinner to see a concert or go to a game or all those things a principal should do,” and then adding, “Education has changed so dramatically that it’s sort of foreign to me. With everything data driven and evidence based I feel it’s better to have someone more steeped in that area.”

However, when asked about what he wants his legacy to be, Dodig answered without a moment of hesitation.

“Everyone here at Staples has bought into the idea of acceptance,” Dodig said. “Teachers have come up to me and talked about how amazed they are to see students in the hallway being nice and knowing that they won’t get ridiculed or bullied for anything they say. I think that mindset will be my legacy.”

Kveitaia agreed with Dodig, saying, “Hopefully the administration will find someone to fill [Dodig’s] very large shoes, but he leaves behind a legacy of care and love between everyone at Staples.”

Massoud concurred with Kveitaia and added that Staples is going to lose a bit of its “family feeling,” that Dodig created.

Dodig, however, is not sad to be leaving but rather is happy to have had the chance to work at Staples.

“As I told the seniors at our last assembly,” Dodig said, “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never to have loved at all.”