The principal and vice principal of Dickinson Middle School were presented the Patriot Award during the school's Veterans Day assembly Friday.
The Patriot Award, given by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, recognizes supervisors for providing support to a service member. To receive the award, the supervisor must be nominated by their service member employee. Principal Dr. Marcus Lewton was nominated by Scott Obrigewitch, history teacher. Assistant Principal and Activities Director Shawn Leiss was nominated by Levi Long, math teacher.
Obrigewitch said both Lewton and Leiss have been understanding and accommodating about their service-related absences, both in the classroom and the athletic field.
"Levi and I, for many years, we both coached. Shawn was just really good with us missing for games. He'd come and help out and do what he needed to do to help us in our absence," he said.
Obrigewitch said he's gone quite a bit — sometimes for a day, a couple weeks, a month, or even a year.
"Oftentimes in my military service, I've had to leave on short notice," he said. "I spent a month at the Dakota Access Pipelines protest. Marcus has never made it sound like it was an inconvenience for me to be gone. He's very supportive. He understands what I do is important. He's never made me feel guilty, never made me feel bad."
Obrigewitch said he may have an opportunity to go to Hawaii for a week in December for the National Guard, but he wasn't sure if he should take it.
"I was talking to some of my coworkers, and we have a gal that’s out on maternity leave," he said. "We’re always swamped for substitutes, and I kind of felt bad even thinking about doing it. I brought it up to Marcus. I was half expecting him to say, ‘Well, if you don’t have to go … you know how hard it is to get subs,’ but he didn’t bat an eye. He just said, ‘Go. If you have a chance to do something like that, go.’ He just didn’t even hesitate."
Lewton said the school makes do in their absences.
"Those guys both have such an impact on their kids that usually finding someone to fill in is fairly easy. They do such a great job with their kids."
Obrigewitch said Lewton is really supportive of the military, pointing to the school's Veterans Day assembly.
"Since we’ve been at Dickinson Middle School, we’ve never done an all-school Veterans Day assembly. They did it by grades two years ago. Last year, we just had this presentation with the eighth graders in the forum," he said.
Long asked if Lewton would mind having an all-school assembly this year. Obrigewitch said Lewton immediately gave them the go-ahead.
Lewton said receiving the award was a humbling experience.
"It’s a team effort at DMS," he said. "There are countless paraprofessionals and teachers and office staff — everybody helps when someone’s out for something, including when Mr. Long and Mr. Obrigewitch had to be gone. In part, it’s humbling. In another part, I wish it could say DMS too, but I’m very grateful."