Teacher honored with Unsung Hero award
Published: January 18, 2007 | 5322nd good news item since 2003
Robert Griffith, a longtime teacher at Nashoba Regional High School, recently received an “Unsung Hero” award from St. Michael’s College of Vermont. Passionate about his subject matter and known for his positive attitude and quick wit, Griffith, a Clinton resident, has taught psychology at Nashoba for 13 years, and before that, taught English at Emerson School for eight years.
Erik Loescher, a Bolton resident who graduated from Nashoba last year and is now a freshman at St. Michael’s College, nominated Griffith for the award.
“Mr. Griffith is one of a few exceptional teachers I’ve encountered in my scholastic career. He takes a genuine interest in each of his student’s lives and always offers emotional support,” Loescher said. “He treats each one of his pupils with unconditional positive regard and is passionate about the subject he teaches. Most importantly, although all of Mr. Griffith’s students are younger, he respects them as equals, interacting with them as adults. This helped me to mature during my senior year and prepared me for the interactions to come in college and the real world,” Loescher commented.
Nashoba Principal John Smith said the award is “a really nice honor for Bob. He is an outstanding teacher, one who is passionate about psychology and passionate about the kids… He is one of those guys, when he comes into a room, he lights up the room. He has a positive attitude and a great sense of humor.”
Griffith, who teaches four AP psychology classes and one college prep class, a total of 127 students, is well known among students. Outside the classroom, he coaches girls’ junior varsity softball and is the advisor to Amnesty International and the newly formed peer mediation group, which offers conflict mediation, student to student. He also films football games, co-emcees the ever-popular Mr. Nashoba contest, and is an announcer for the ladies Powder Puff flag football game.
“He is such a student-centered faculty member and is so involved,” Smith said. “He is a model staff member when it comes to his passion for kids.”
Smith recalled that Griffith is a regular at the end of the year Senior Banquet, as are a lot of staff members. “He spends the entire evening, not just signing yearbooks, but writing personal notes in each one. He never takes time out to eat,” Smith said with a laugh.
“What is so satisfying for the students that have him is that he is challenging, demanding and compassionate. He shares the challenge with them and is with them for the ride,” Smith said. “The kids want to do well to please him,” according to Smith.
In a letter to Smith about the award, Jerry Flanagan, Saint Michael’s vice president for admissions and enrollment said the “Unsung Hero” awards went “to heroic teachers who truly made a difference in students’ lives and inspired them to pursue higher education. Our communities are made up of people doing heroic things everyday. Military personnel, firefighters and police officers may come to mind first and rightly so, however we feel teachers top the list of other ‘unsung’ heroes of our day,” Flanagan said. The college selected 58 unsung heroes from high schools throughout New England.
Griffith doesn’t take the compliments lightly and is quick to direct praise elsewhere. He said that the “whole singling people out thing” makes him “kind of uncomfortable,” because there are so many teachers who do an outstanding job.
A sixth grade English teacher at Emerson School with a masters degree in psychology, Griffith quips that he “tricked” the high school into hiring him to teach the subject. Although he was certified to teach at the high school level when he signed on, the state did make him get his certification in history, because psychology falls under the social studies department.
Griffith had high praise for his students. “These kids go to phenomenal schools. They are really invested in education. It’s almost like a private school at the level I teach.”
Reflecting on his position at Nashoba, Griffith said with a grin that was visible over the telephone line, “I get to teach what I like with really smart kids who sign up to take the class and work really hard. It’s a pretty good gig.”