Dodd departing Mason High

Drew Hoffmaster | The Chronicle

At the conclusion of the 2023-24 school year, a six-year chapter is closing at Mason High School (MHS). 

On February 2, principal Bobby Dodd announced that he was resigning from his position.

After helping kick-start and improve many of MHS’s many programs like the Experiential Learning Program (XLP), Hope Squad and the AMs, Dodd had decided to move on from MHS. He said that the decision was made because he felt that it was a good time to move on because his youngest daughter is graduating high school, and he feels it is time to try something new.

“Me just trying something different is like something internally for me,” Dodd said. “I’ve been here a little bit, and it’s been fun. [The school] has accomplished so many things, but I’m ready for something else.”

During his time at MHS, Dodd has given himself the goal of hearing student and staff voices. He has helped create the Big Rock Team, Inclusive Excellence Club and begun collecting data using the Panorama Surveys to learn more about where the school can improve.

“I think as a principal, you have to be open-minded,” Dodd said. “You have to have a vision, but you have to be able to adapt and listen.”

The best way to understand what students and staff want Dodd feels is to make good connections with them. Dodd has gone out of his way to roam the lunch room and implemented 15-minute connection meetings with staff.

“I don’t know all the kids’ names here, but I think they know that they can approach me and the rest of the administrative team when needed,” Dodd said. “I hope that students know that we can help them when needed, and we are open to listening to them anytime.”

Reflecting on his time here, Dodd said that he hopes he has been able to implement most of what students have wanted. He hopes he has helped make this school a better place than it was six years ago.

“I tell staff all the time our goal should always be the best place to. work and learn,” Dodd said. “I feel that if we can achieve this MHS will become one of the best schools in the country, and I hope whoever replaces me can understand this.”

Since he started his time as principal, Dodd provided the idea to give students real-world opportunities with job shadows, internships, trade work and post-secondary education tours. Senior Hamsa Tadpatri is a Business Industry Manager with the experiential learning program, which began under Dodd’s tenure, and said that Dodd had the original vision for the program with students getting a head start exploring their options after high school.

“[Dodd] definitely has a huge legacy specifically in this program,” Tadpatri said. “If he wasn’t here, I don’t think we would have even had the idea of you know, bringing in student aspects of things.”

Senior Liam O’Leary said that he feels the XLP program would not have been possible without the leadership skills of Dodd. With his connections and contacts, Dodd was able to help kick-start the program and even bring the current Experiential Learning Coordinator Joe Schroeder to the program.

“Bobby Dodd is a huge leader, especially with being principal,” O’Leary said. “It’s not just his experience with students but more about the physical and experience with leadership. It’s his leadership with knowing everyone here and being able to communicate with us.”

Dodd also offered students the opportunity to learn about leadership during Connect Time with the Principal Leadership Club. Senior Jackson McKinney was one of the students who participated in it, attending regularly to improve his leadership skills for the clubs and activities he was a part of like the Cosmic Cafe.

“[Dodd] was a really good principal, and I’m sad that he’s leaving,” McKinney said. “He had a lot of leadership traits and gave very good speeches during his time here. He’s just a really good mentor to all.”

McKinney also said that without the help of Dodd, opening the Cosmic Cafe would not have been possible. Dodd acted as a leader to them, giving the team ideas on how to expand the cafe’s image.

“[Dodd’s] helped all of the small business [organizations] here,” McKinney said. “We had a meeting with him in December, and he said if [the Cosmic Cafe] needed anything, we can always ask him for help. If [the Cosmic Cafe] wants to do anything, he’ll most likely agree with it. He’s very open to new [ideas].”

Dodd has also had a huge impact on the district’s Big Rock focus. He helped open the high school team to the students three years ago and helped contribute many different ideas. Senior Daud Malik, a member of the Big Rock Team’s Peak Moments Committee which plans memorable experiences and moments for the school, said that he has helped the team plan moments for the school, advising them in whatever ways needed.

“He does a great job leading our meetings,” Malik said. “He has helped us brainstorm ideas that are feasible for all students to be involved with while still allowing for the inputs of teachers and students.”

Dodd specifically has had the role of leading the Peak Moments Committee. Malik said he has done a good job of connecting with everyone on the team while successfully planning meetings and events for the team.

“[Dodd] tries to work things out with us whenever we have ambitions to do something,” Malik said. “But if something seems like it won’t, he’ll tell you. He just leads us in a comforting way.”

Even though Dodd did not start Hope Squad, he has been the principal since the first year it was implemented. He has made a point of attending Hope Squad events with his family and made sure the club has the funds needed to be a part of the national Hope Squad Committee. Senior Sydney Vargo, who has been a Hope Squad member for three years, said that Dodd has always made his support of the club clear and hopes whoever comes next does the same.

“I really hope the next principal is just as personable as Dodd,” Vargo said. “He has really made a difference, making us feel more at ease and making going to get support easy.” 

Vargo said that Dodd has made himself open and receptive, always listening to the club’s ideas. Dodd always made it a point to tell the students within Hope Squad directly that they could come to talk to them at the beginning of each school year.

“I would say [to Dodd] thank you for being so down to earth and so real with students,” Vargo said. “It’s really easy as a higher level person in the school to have a very professional relationship with students but he was very authentic.”