By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Neal Dodge, a new science and math teacher at Chase County Schools (CCS), is a long way from his roots. He is a native of Owego, N.Y., a town in a rural setting not unlike Imperial.
Dodge, 42, has been hired to teach eighth grade science and math and seventh grade math. When talking with him a week or so ago, he was overseeing students preparing for the math portion of the NeSA (Nebraska State Accountability) tests.
Dodge received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pa. in 1995. He is expecting to complete a Master of Science in education degree from Calvary Theological Seminary next spring.
Dodge chose teaching as a career after being influenced by his father, uncle and other family members who were teachers.
“I always enjoyed working with kids and teaching them things, having an impact on kids. It was natural,” he commented.
The road to teaching wasn’t straight, though. After being head wrangler at Maple Ridge Ranch in Owego, N.Y., he then was a substitute teacher and bus driver in the New York-Pennsylvania area, from about 1998-2005.
He and wife Kerrie then moved to Kansas City, Mo., where he joined his father-in-law as an electrician. He’d been looking for a teaching job in New York, but needed to provide for his family.
Dodge then became a secondary science teacher at Blue Ridge Christian School in Kansas City, from 2009-2014.
The opportunity to teach in a small school, as well as moving from the neighborhood they lived in, led him to accept the CCS position.
“Survival!” is Dodge’s goal this first year at CCS. “This year I have to figure out Imperial, the school system, the kids and teach them at the same time,” he explained, as well as working his way through the Nebraska teaching requirements.
Dodge spends his free time with his family. He and Kerrie are parents to Ruth, in eighth grade; Elizabeth, in seventh grade; Jonathan, in fifth grade; Hannah, in third grade, Benjamin, in second grade; Michael, in kindergarten, and two-and-one-half year old Zachariah.
However, he’d also like to go hunting, if the opportunity arises.