Happy New Year!
As we usher in 2019, we begin our weekly tribute to Lee County educators by honoring the school district’s 2018 Lee County Principal of the Year, Dr. Chris Dossenbach of Southern Lee High School.
Receiving Principal of the Year has been a humbling experience for Dr. Dossenbach, and he credits it all to his staff. “If someone thinks I’m principal of the year, it’s only because of the staff I have. It’s because they all have made me look that way.” He also notes that “any principal in Lee County” is as deserving of the award. “I work with a great group of principals, so it’s very humbling,” he said, explaining that he’s particularly close with Steven Ross, his counterpart at Lee County High School. “It’s not unusual for him to call me or for me to call him, and it wasn’t 30 minutes after finding out about the award that he was on the phone to me to congratulate me. Sometimes you need to debrief or ask for advice, and so it’s great to have that community of principals.”
Dr. Dossenbach has spent his entire teaching career at Southern Lee, first as a student teacher, then as an English teacher before moving into the role of principal in 2013. As a result, he has knowledge and experience in most aspects of the school’s operations. “Having seen things from all these different perspectives has been huge for me,” he said. “Every decision I make, I just try to think about whether it’s good for the kids and how it’s going to affect the teachers. I guess it would be easy when you get out of the classroom to just kind of bark orders, but that’s not who I want to be.”
Because he’s a 2003 graduate from Lee County High School, formerly known as Lee Senior, Dr. Dossenbach now finds himself as “the boss” of several teachers who moved from Lee County High to Southern Lee when the new high school opened. This dynamic can be interesting, to say the least. “When it becomes awkward is going into a veteran teacher’s classroom. In some cases they were my teachers, and it’s my job now to critique them, knowing they know more about education than I ever will,” he said. “But I have a lot of respect for those veteran teachers, and I’m still learning from them.”