Chris Rhoda ’88, M.B.A. ’89 has always enjoyed volunteering in his children’s classrooms, but he noticed that he was only one of a handful of dads to do so. That’s when he was inspired to encourage other fathers to do the same, after discovering a national program called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students). His daughter’s school at the time, Belgrade Central School, was on board. Chris and several dads have volunteered ever since – even expanding it to the Messalonskee Middle School recently.
When Chris volunteers, he begins the day by greeting the students at the entrance, visiting several classes, and helping with a variety of things at the teacher’s direction (reading, writing, spelling, math, etc.). He also gets to talk to – and, more importantly, listen to – them during recess and lunch.
“There are very few male teachers at the elementary level in most schools, and it continues to amaze me how many children want my attention,” said Chris. “Teachers tell me the ones who seek my attention are typically those who don’t have fathers at home.”
Chris said volunteering is good for his emotional well-being. It provides much more for him than it even does for the students.
“I like being able to tell someone they are a great reader/writer/speller and seeing them give me a look like no one has ever told them that before,” he said. “I like being the reason there are fewer students in the principal’s office when I’m there. I like being able to help a teacher focus on one or a small group of students who are either a little behind or ahead of the larger class while the teacher works with the larger group.”
At Thomas College, Chris is the VP for Information Services and CIO. He’s worked here for 30 years – but began his journey as a student at Thomas in 1984.
He loves his job because he’s able to help students, faculty, and staff fix problems and make their work easier.
Chris lives in Belgrade with his wife Andrea and their two children. They spend a lot of time outside and doing other volunteer work.
“Balancing work and life is very important,” said Chris. “I find I am much happier at work and am able to work even harder after I volunteer or have a vacation.”