SPARTA, NJ- There were approximately 45 Sparta High School students and parents at the board of education meeting to support Math teacher Chris Dugan. The agenda for the Monday, April 28 meeting included the renewal of the tenured and non-tenured teaching staff. Dugan was not going to be renewed for next year.
When it became known that the popular math teacher, who did not have tenure, was not on the list for renewal, students got to work. They compiled a petition of support with over 500 student signatures. The bound petition was presented to Superintendent Dennis Tobin by sophomore Sean Schoch during the public participation portion of the board meeting.
Sophomore Rebecca Senatore followed Schoch to the microphone. She spoke with eloquence and conviction about the experience she and others have had in Dugan's class. She spoke of a common experience in his classroom where students who have struggled with math in the past were delighted to find they could understand previously elusive concepts.
Benjamin Insely, first apologizing for his attire having come directly from a lacrosse game, also gave an articulate argument in support of Dugan.
Mother of four daughters, including last year's valedictorian, Denise Scaglione spoke of her twins' success in math with Dugan. She explained he created a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom where her students were comfortable asking for help, gaining confidence in their abilities.
The lobbying paid off. On Wednesday, April 30 Dugan was informed by Sparta High School Principal Daniel Johnson that he would be renewed for next year.
Johnson explained, "The students presented a well thought out, well spoken discussion in support of their teacher. I wanted them to know I listened to them and value their opinion and I'll give it another year."
Dugan came to Sparta High School midyear of the 2011-2012 school year. He began as a leave-of-absence replacement teacher and was hired full time the following year.