Todd says ta-ta to time teaching at Rose
WED. | 06-14-22 | FEATURES
Rose AP Environmental Science (APES), Marine Science Honors and Environmental Science teacher Clinton Todd has made the tough decision to start a new chapter in his career. Todd will leave Rose after 15 years of teaching.
“I've had the pleasure to be in one spot for that long and to build relationships with the rest of the faculty and all the students who have come through my doors over the years,” Todd said.
This past year, Todd has been juggling his teaching position at Rose, advising three clubs, graduate school for school administration and his
duties after recently being named the 2022 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Northeast Region Teacher of the Year.
“I know that next school year, I will have to be out of the building more frequently than I had expected,'' Todd said. “As a result, I would feel terrible having to abandon my students who are in my classes that often, especially whenever I consider myself a student advocate; I would never want to be a hypocrite about that situation.”
Todd has taken a position as an administrator, Dean of Students, at Northwest Elementary School for the upcoming school year, and he will also partially teach students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Todd will also be guiding other STEM educators, such as assisting teachers with lab activities for their kids and serving as a support system for them.
“I thought that it was important for me to find an alternative route to be able to do the things that I want to do… and the best plan was to have someone else work in my capacity as a teacher at Rose,” Todd said. “This will allow me to have a more flexible schedule and it will also allow me to complete my graduate studies program.”
Todd is currently the teacher advisor for three clubs at Rose: Pride Alliance, Unity Counsel and JHR for Earth, which is an environmental service group. Todd wants students to still engage in these clubs even in his absence, and he has found the best teachers to take his place.
“One of the most important things for me to do was to make sure that I did not leave anyone at a loss or in a struggle because of my absence, if I could help it in any way, shape or form,” Todd said. “I've secured Ms. Boccia as the advisor [for Pride Alliance] which she graciously and excitedly agreed to take on, which made me feel so much better.”
Over the past eight years, Todd has dedicated his time and commitment to the Pride Alliance club at Rose. In Todd's first year as the club’s teacher advisor, there were seven members, which now has developed into 37 members in the club. The Pride Alliance club is currently the largest LGBTQ+ student organization in Pitt County, which Todd is very proud of.
“That has been really important for me to grow and connect the community to our students that are seen as included in our school and embraced in our school,” Todd said. “We’ve established a more accepting culture at J.H. Rose and we make that the norm.”
Unity Council’s purpose is to uplift voices within Rose that are often underrepresented within our school. The teachers who will be advising over the Unity Council are Mr. Leach, Ms. Noles, Ms. Nysether-Santos, Ms. Aceto and Ms. Knight.
“The Unity Council will be advised by a group of teachers which I think is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for us to see diverse teachers and diverse students who are able to work together for a common goal,” Todd said. “I fully trust [those teachers] with my students and I think that they will grow them in a way that I wasn’t even able to this year; I’m very excited for the future with Unity Council.”
Todd has dedicated his time at Rose not only as a teacher and club advisor, but as a mentor to his students to be able to take care of themselves and be independent as student leaders, which is a valuable lesson to be learned.
“I've made sure to develop student leaders throughout the year so that regardless of the adults in the building, I knew that student leadership would still be able to manage and continue clubs regardless of the teacher advisor,” Todd said.
The schedule is still being developed for next school year, but there are exciting possibilities for teachers that will take over Todd’s place in the classroom.
“I love all of my content, I love my curriculum and I have loved my classes over these years, and
I know we have teachers at Rose who are going to be able to show that love to students as well,” Todd said. “It's my hope that students continue to sign up for those classes because I think it's good for them, and I hope to see the program develop and strengthen over time.”
Todd has contributed much to Rose beyond the classroom. He’s created safe spaces for students at Rose and made many learning experiences fun while also learning from students at the same time he teaches them.
“It was very important for me to make sure that I was able to contribute in my 15 years here and to be happy about the fact that I can look back and see some of the contributions that I have made, and I trust my colleagues implicitly that they can continue with those contributions and grow them further,” Todd said.
Todd’s primary goal in attending graduate school was to gain better insight on how the educational system works, specifically in Pitt County, and how he can advocate on behalf of students and their needs.
“I understand how high school works,” Todd said. “I don't understand the elementary schools and middle schools as well as I do high school, so it was important that I was able to diversify my own experiences because whenever I speak to the needs of our local education system, I want to be able to speak to the needs for all schools and all students, and I cannot speak toward those things if I haven't had those experiences for myself.”
This decision has not been an easy one for Todd, but he knows what his mission is calling him to do as a teacher that finds it important to advocate on behalf of his students. Many students who have had Todd as a teacher this year would recall making those mission statements that now hang on his wall. Todd has his own mission statement that he lives by.
“My purpose has always been to help support kids who need it most, and as long as I'm able to do that, then I'm on point with my mission,” Todd said. “If I am able to support kids and even more students in need on a wider range, then that is something that I cannot pass up in terms of an opportunity; don't let fear hinder your experiences.”
Todd would like for his students to not be scared of unfamiliar opportunities and to do what aligns with their own mission statements.
“If I could leave behind a message to my current students, it would be ‘don't be afraid to try new things, but always remember at your core what your mission is and what the purpose of your life experiences and your life’s work is’,” Todd said.