Principal surprised by award

  • Music teacher and Army National Guard member Adam Lyon, left, nominated his boss, Dexter Park Innovation School Principal Christopher Dodge, right, for a “Patriotic Employer” award from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. STAFF PHOTO/DAVID McLELLAN

  • Dexter Park Innovation School Principal Christopher Dodge, center, received a “Patriotic Employer” award through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Program. He was nominated by his employee, music teacher Adam Lyon, left, and the award was presented by ESGR Area Chair Bill Hebert. STAFF PHOTO/DAVID McLELLAN 

Staff Writer
Published: 2/6/2019 11:27:45 PM

ORANGE — Adam Lyon isn’t a typical employee. One day he is teaching music at Dexter Park Innovation School, the next, he is performing his duties as a member of the Army National Guard.

And, it takes patriotic employers to accommodate people like Lyon — in his ninth year in the 215th Army Band of the Massachusetts Army National Guard and second year as band director and K-6 music teacher at Dexter Park — which is why Lyon nominated his boss, Principal Christopher Dodge, for a U.S. Department of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve award. 

The nomination was successful, and Dodge was given the award this week during a surprise visit from ESGR Western Massachusetts Area Chair Bill Hebert. The plaque, which reads “Patriotic Employer,” is adorned with the seal of the U.S. Department of Defense and signed by ESGR National Chairman Craig R. McKinley, formerly 26th chief of the National Guard Bureau. 

“I’m shocked, surprised, but honored,” Dodge said. “I respect Adam for his service. I try to be understanding of him having another job, another life, outside of here.”

Dodge said, “like most people,” he has had family members, friends and colleagues serve in the military and wants to honor and respect their commitment. 

“Adam has done a lot of things he should be very proud of, and I want him to share that with the kids,” Dodge said. “When he wears his uniform at the Memorial Day service, that makes a difference to the kids.”

Dodge said he was surprised to win an award, because being understanding and accommodating, allowing things like flexible hours, “doesn’t take a lot of thought on my end.”

But to Lyon, Dodge has made a huge difference. Lyon has been able to go to Dodge for any issue, whether professional or personal, Lyon said, and Dodge has allowed him to use valuable leadership skills learned in the National Guard while teaching children.

The two have worked together in revitalizing the school band, Lyon said, which is currently funded by community donations. However, Dodge has said publicly he would like to prioritize musical education in budgetary talks and has seen Dexter Park’s band grow to nearly 100 members. 

Dodge has also consistently advocated on Lyon’s behalf to make him a full-time employee, Lyon said, recognizing the importance of his position as the school’s musical educator, while other district officials have pushed back against making him full-time. The town’s financial problems have kept Lyon as a part-time employee, but Dodge has always pushed for full-time status, as well as revitalizing the school’s band, Lyon said.

“That says a lot about what kind of a guy he is,” Lyon said. “I can go to him, for anything, and he’ll say, ‘yes.’ I have no doubt in his leadership ability.”

Reach David McLellan at or 413-772-0261, ext. 268. 


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