Here are Di Nestel’s thoughts on our Mr. Science Guy. This is the one master teacher citation that moved me the most as I was compiling this particular segment for the school history site. Andy is one heck of an amazing teacher.
“We decided that a good way to talk about our friend Mr. Dodge was to share one of his passions with you. We had a lot to choose from. He is a walking encyclopedia of rock-and-roll history; he also plays guitar and bass and is an outstanding drummer. He loves to read. He is a remarkable fly fisherman, lacrosse player, basketball player, boxer, and wood carver. We even thought about sharing some classic stories from his childhood, but he will share those with you when you get to fifth grade. We decided to talk about riding a bike. Mr. Dodge loves to ride; racing bike, mountain bike: if it has two tires and pedals, he loves it. How many of you have learned to ride a bike? I'll bet the person who helped you learn to ride a bike was probably pretty amazing. They were probably a lot like Mr. Dodge.
“If you are going to teach someone to ride a bike, you have to know what you are doing. You need an expert. This person has to know what is really important, and he has to know not to get distracted by nonsense. Mr. Dodge is that kind of expert. He is passionate about science; he works hard to stay up-to-date in his field and puts the information into the hands of his students in a way they can digest it. He cuts the nonsense out of each lesson, and then, after the basics are in place, he introduces more complex ideas to expand on the concepts. He shares with students the wonder and joy of his discipline and invites each and every one of you to explore and become scientists.
“The person who taught you to ride a bike was also patient and committed to your success. You probably didn’t get it the first time, but they stuck with you and remembered that you were the most important part of the process. Let's be honest with ourselves; learning to ride a bike can be a little scary. Well, science can be a little scary, too. Things change, you have to learn new stuff, and when you have to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try instead of standing safely on the sideline, that can be a little scary. But Mr. Dodge is always there for you. He gently guides people forward. Mr. Dodge has taught me that learning takes time (different time for different people), and that as teachers we have to meet students where they are. He has an unfailing belief that others are doing the best they can and a commitment to help people reach their potential.
“When you learned to ride a bike, you needed someone who knew when to let you go. It’s hard to imagine trying to ride if someone is still holding onto your seat! You see, to have success they had to give you that final push and then let go of the seat and watch you ride. Mr. Dodge grows this same independence in his students, primarily because he believes in them, he encourages them, and he knows the exact right time to let them go. Mr. Dodge helps others believe in their potential and see that they can accomplish great things.
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“We can go on and on about how great Mr. Dodge is at his job... he’s a great teacher, he is a great trip leader, he is a great science department chair, he is a great lacrosse coach, he is a great Gates Invention director and coach. As impressive as all of that is, it does not describe why you, and we, love Andy. We love Andy/Mr. Dodge because we are our better selves when we are around him. He inspires us. He motivates us. He makes us laugh. He is just plain fun to be with and having fun is important.
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Andy, we gather here today to celebrate your 20 years at Graland and the impact you have had on all our lives. We thank you and we love you for being our colleague, our pull, our teacher, our coach and above all, our friend. Happy riding!