LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Ronald DiBona

Position: English Teacher
School: Franklin High School
School District: Franklin Public Schools
City, State: Franklin, MA

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Ronald DiBona was nominated by a parent of a student, Laurie Ryan and a colleague, Mary Kate Fitzgerald.

Ronald DiBona is an outstanding English teacher at Franklin High School who inspires his students to push past their limits and grow as people, as well as writers. Freshman year is a difficult time of transition for all students, and in his freshman English classes, Mr. DiBona balances the realities of high school rigor with careful nurturing and clear expectations. He uses humor and a deep understanding of the children in front of him to build sincere, lasting relationships with his students, helping them to grow and push for their dreams. He believes in them so they believe in themselves.

Out of this insight into what high school students believe and need, he started the 40% Club, which is dedicated to bringing happiness to the school. He spearheaded this club in 2016 after reflecting on his personal life and recognizing that he needed to be happier. He decided to call this club the 40% Club because he discovered that scientific studies have shown that 50% of a person's happiness is based on their genetic makeup and 10% comes from what happens to them throughout their day in their environment. The remaining 40% is what a person controls through their own actions and words.

He reached out to a group of students and explained the idea for the club. In the past year, this club has been a major success, and now includes more than 70 members. Students within the club have had their lives changed through the lessons on happiness he has given and through making others happy during the club's activities. Students outside the club have also been positively impacted by the club's activities. Some of these activities include passing out lollipops on the first day of midterms and writing kind messages on the whiteboards throughout the school.

Mr. DiBona's efforts with the 40% Club extend beyond the students to other parts of the school community, with activities such as cooking dinner for the cafeteria workers in the school district, "thank you" cards for building administrators and assistants, and homemade cookies to thank the school custodians.

"As a parent of one of his students, I have watched my daughter grow into a confident, kind, passionate young adult due in part to the leadership opportunities and encouragement of Mr. DiBona throughout her four years at Franklin High School," Ryan said. "As a fellow educator, I knew right from the first day of freshman year that we had lucked-out when Caleigh was assigned to Mr. DiBona's English class. We are so thankful for the life-changing education he has provided."

Comments (36)

Maddie Posted over a year ago

I unfortunately never had Mr. D as a teacher myself, but he was the first teacher I ever met at Franklin High. He was so nice and enthusiastic when I met him over the summer at the high school. I was very sad that when I read my schedule I did not have him for English. Over the years, we would always say hi in the hallways and have conversations in the lunchroom. However, senior year he helped me to write my college essay, about Mac n cheese no less. Without Mr. D’s help, I probably would not have gotten into my dream schools. He is a great man who never frowns and always wishes the best for others. He is the most deserving man of this award.

Alex Zollo Ellis Posted over a year ago

I don't remember much from my freshman year of high school. It was a whirlwind of new, higher expectations in academics, athletics, and extracurriculars. I do remember, however, the few people that significantly changed my life and altered it for the better. Mr. D is one of those people. I remember my first few English classes that year; it wasn't anything like what I had expected. Mr. D talked to us like we were adults--while simultaneously joking with us, so we wouldn't forget our true place as 14-year-old kids--and told us to prepare for the hard work ahead. He expected nothing but greatness from us, and he told us that, every day. When he returned our first essays, the grade I received was much lower than I expected. I was terrified. But I met with him after school, and we worked together, step by step, on how to properly communicate my thoughts and ideas onto paper. He demonstrated tremendous patience and invested so much of his time so that we would not only succeed in his class, but also in every class we took thereafter. He doesn't just teach freshman English lessons; he teaches life lessons. He has a unique way of making every student feel special, and I know this significantly impacts each student's overall success. The love he shows his students is nothing short of the love parents show their children. That is why so many of his former students, including myself, return year after year to visit not only their former English teacher, but also their friend. Mr. D is one of the most genuine people I know, and I am honored to call him my teacher and friend.

Erin Posted over a year ago

I had Mr. D eight years ago. So the fact that I'm still compelled to write on his behalf shows a lot. There is not a single teacher that I remember or keep in touch with from my youth, besides Mr. D. He has always had such a genuine interest in the success of his students, and simply their lives and troubles. We were always "his students" even long after we moved past his freshman year class. He's one of the teachers that "gets it". That highschool is a roller coaster of stress and emotions for most kids. That there has been a culture of teacher vs. student in the past. He breaks past that and is somehow able to level with every single student in their own unique way. He sees everyone individually- their strengths, their struggles etc. Mr D pushed me harder than any other teacher did- to the point of frustration at times- and expectations never wavered. He made me a better writer but I will remember him always as an awesome guy, first. He recently attended my college graduation party, and in Mr D fashion gave me a wonderful book as a present- The Happiness Project. Which is fitting given the other comments you can read about his 40% club. Mr D deserves all of these comments. He is the best Franklin High has ever had to offer, and we are so proud to have him.

Shannon Walsh Posted over a year ago

I was lucky enough to have Mr. D as a teacher during my freshman year of high school and during that year, I learned so much academically, but also about myself as a student and as a person. He taught the class with a level of rigor that was challenging, but made learning so much fun. I learned how to push myself out of my comfort zone academically and socially because of the assignments he gave, and I noticed myself applying what we were discussing in class to so many other aspects of my life because Mr. D does not just teach explicit lessons, but he also teaches a hidden curriculum which I find hard to believe I would have found in any of my other classes. The passion Mr. D has for his job, his students, and Franklin High School is truly inspiring and I will always admire him for the effort and genuine care he puts into what he does. Little things like making up individual nicknames for his students or always remembering which class students were in of his even after they have graduated are only some of the qualities that make Mr. D so deserving of this award. Even though I have graduated and am moving on in my studies, Mr. D is one of the few teachers who I always come back to in my mind and give credit to in helping me get to where I am now and where I plan to go in the future. The impact Mr. D has had on my life has been one I talk about all of the time and appreciate immensely, however it is not rare. He truly puts his whole heart into the success and well being of his students and has and I have no doubt he will continue to shape the lives of his students for the better.

Lilli Thorne Posted over a year ago

Mr. D’s support throughout my high school, and now college, career is unmatched. As a freshman in high school in his honors English class, I was terrified of not being good enough to succeed. And Mr. D certainly believed I could, as he never wavered in encouraging me to become a better student, writer, and person. I was in his class 6 years ago, but I truly never stopped being his student. After I was in his class, I continued to be nurtured by his guidance in the literary guild, and the lessons he found in each book we read made my experience in the club all the more enriching and complete. Mr. D, somehow, just gets students. He is caring, kind, encouraging, and his class was truly a blast. I learned so much (no one has taught me more about how to read and write analytically) but also got to take part in class-wide inside jokes and laugh each day. Mr. D was made to be a teacher, especially one for freshman students. Freshman year was a really transformative time for me, and I’m not alone in that. I will never forget the transcendentalism unit of study and how it helped transform how I view the world around me. I’ll also never forget Mr. D’s appreciation for the literature and how it effects students; he always taught with us and our emotions in mind. What sets Mr. D apart for me is that his class was really challenging; it was more challenging than any academic experience I had been through thus far. But Mr. D’s care and attention to each student made me feel comfortable in that challenge. It’s an honor to be his student and I always look forward to my visits with him. I can’t adequately put into words what he has done for me, and the confidence I have that he will continue to be my teacher forever.

Kimberly Mucciarone Posted over a year ago

A few years ago my oldest daughter sat in her freshman English class and felt a sharp pain in her lower abdomen area, followed by a ”pop” sound that startled the whole class. The sound was an ovarian cyst that burst during class and we soon rushed to the hospital. Nicole recovered and on arrival home 24 hours later, we were happily surprised to find her English teacher Mr. DiBona had left several messages on the answering machine over concern for the situation and Nicole’s well being. My family and I were so touched that a teacher had made this much effort and concern over a student. We knew in that moment we had found a compassionate gem at Franklin High School. The years passed and Mr. DiBona not only helped my oldest daughter but continued and everlasting link in our house hold to edit and help all three daughters with college essays and prepare for the real world. We appreciate all his kindness, and sincere ambitious patient personality to strive with each one of my daughters. Working with the High School age is not easy but Mr. D goes above and beyond to make each student feel important and strives for them to make a difference in this world. We are so thankful for Mr. D’s dedication to the student body at Franklin High School and for the life-changing experiences he provides to all his students. My little story is one of many you hear through the halls at Franklin High School. Please consider Mr. D for this award as he deserves so much more. Thank you for your time.

Jessica Posted over a year ago

Mr. D seems to touch the lives of nearly every student who enters FHS. Though I was never one of his students, I still feel the influence he has made on the FHS community, even years after graduating. He learned my name from a few times I stopped by his classroom with friends and he still remembers my name. All my friends who had class with Mr. D still talk about how his positive outlook helped them in their transition into high school. Those I know with siblings in the high school have described the 40% club to me with high praise for how Mr. D strives to help high school students become happier and more confident. Mr. D has an extremely special knack for making all students feel important and cared about. I can’t think of another person, educator or otherwise, who I’ve known to change so many lives for the better.

Joe Corsi Posted over a year ago

I had Mr. D about 6 years as an English teacher and my life changed completely. He did not only teach me how to become a better writer but also a better person. Mr. D came into class each and everyday with a smile on his face and gave 100% to what he loved to do; teach. “Treat others how you want to be treated. He demands respect but the thing is, he gives it right back. As a freshman, he taught me the true meaning of that. One day he made a speech to my class about how to respect each other and that he had seen kids not respecting one another and how disappointing it was to him. I went and talked to him about it and later that day I came home to an email printed out and posted on my fridge that he sent to my parents about how he truly loves having me in his class. Senior year of High School, I had the opportunity to do an internship and had to have a mentor throughout it all. Thinking of all the teachers I had throughout FHS, I immediately knew I was going to choose Mr. D as that mention. He took the time and effort to help me once a week after school and helped me through the process. Mr. D never let his students give up and he never will give up on them. He puts more time and effort into his work as a teacher than anyone I ever have had. He’s not only one of the best teachers but one of the greatest guys I have ever met. I am thankful I had the opportunity to have him and he deserves this award and everything he has earned already in life.

Helen Huang Posted over a year ago

Though I only had Mr. D for a teacher in my freshman year, I watched him change my life and the lives of those around me throughout all four years of high school. After seeing him act so selflessly toward others for so many years, I can say with confidence that no one deserves the LifeChanger of the Year award more than Mr. DiBona. Mr. D has spearheaded many programs at the high school that have been crucial to the growth, development, and happiness of students there. A few of those programs are Poetry Out Loud (POL), the 40% Club (also known as the Happiness Club), Literary Guild, and Philosophy Club. Poetry Out Loud has provided a creative outlet for students of all grades, and the competition has become one of the most popular events at the high school. One of my best friends participated in the program when we were in high school, and it became one of the defining activities of her high school career. Through POL, she truly discovered her passion for poetry recitation. I watched Mr. D dedicated hours upon hours of his time to help her advance all the way to the state finals, despite how busy he already was as a teacher and advisor for several time-intensive activities. Mr. D’s selflessness explains how he can cultivate such strong relationships with students. Every year, Mr. D asks alumni to return to the high school and help him judge for POL. So many previous students (from freshmen to seniors in college) respond to his request that he always has more people volunteering than he needs. Alumni like myself are more than happy to take time out of our winter break to return to the high school because we want to support Mr. D in any way we can, as thanks for all that he did for us in high school. His former students have so much to thank him for because he was more than just our freshman year English teacher-- he was someone who we could always go to for support, even when we weren’t his responsibility anymore. I know many seniors who have asked Mr. D to write college recommendations for them because they felt that Mr. D had been able to get to know them in ways that other teachers couldn’t. Even with looking over college essays and graduation speeches, Mr. D was there for upperclassmen year after year. We all knew how busy he was and we wouldn’t have thought of him any less if he said that he just didn’t have time, but he was the kind of person who would make time for his students (previous or current) no matter what. I would finally just like to note that myself and many of the people who have already commented below are college students who had Mr. D as their teacher in 9th grade. Even though it has been four or more years since Mr. D taught us, we would never pass over an opportunity to tell the world about how amazing of a teacher and person he is. The fact that we still care so much about him despite all this time should speak volumes to how significant of an impact he has had on our lives.

Barbara waite Posted over a year ago

His caring and support of the kids he teaches is unparalleled. His goal is to make every child feel valued and important. He is one of a kind and an outstanding example of a teacher that goes above and beyond.

Meghan Brady Posted over a year ago

Mr. D is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had. He is always so enthusiastic with the class. I would truly have to say he changed my outlook on English Class. Whenever he sees one of his students in the halls, he gives them a massive wave. He also created the 40% club which has one an award and it makes the school community more happy. He brings joy and warmth to the classroom. I would definitely say he changed my life in a positive way and i am grateful for it

TammySue Cusson Posted over a year ago

I met Mr. D at my daughter's freshman orientation and the minute I entered his room I knew this man was going to be THAT teacher that would change my daughter's life. I just knew he was going to impact her life in such positive ways, in ways she would never forget. She not only is learning so much and enjoying her english class, but she has also joined his 40% club and it has touched her in such a deep way. She's always been such a great, giving, considerate person and this is the perfect venue for her. To help other achieve happiness and in return, it gives her such joy. I am grateful that she's gotten to have this experience from such a wonderful role model and teacher. Thank you Mr. D! Forever thankful for the positive experience and mentor you have been to her.

Alyssa Cusson Posted over a year ago

A nervous freshman walks into a brand new GIANT school and sits down in 4th period English class. This weird guy walks in and starts to make all these corny jokes. All she could think to herself was "This guy is gonna be my teacher for the next 180 days..." Little did she know that this man was going to impact her life in the most incredible ways. Mr.D has not just taught me how to write essays, or vocabulary that i'm going to forget within a week, he has taught me what it is like to be happy, and how it feels to make others happy. Before I met him, I thought my life was fine, I thought I was happy. But I was wrong. 40% Club, thats what did it. That is what turned my life around. Mr.D brought together hundreds of students, Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. Working together to better our community, one janitor, one crossing guard, one teacher at a time. Because of his mark on the world, I find myself wanting to make others happy, all the time. I can't wait for that 1 hour a week. That's all I want to do. Running down the hallways to give teachers candy, making cookies for the police, even dancing in the middle of the street for the crossing guards, that's just what we do. Even in class, there is not a second that goes by that the whole class isn't laughing together, whether it be at him, or with him. He dances to music, gives us funny nicknames,( I am proudly Q-Tip ) and just overall makes learning enjoyable. It is the one class that I do not dread going to. If it were not for him, I would not be as happy as I am today. It's hard to believe that only 4 months ago i didn't know what true happiness was and how happy I could be. True happiness isn't opening presents on Christmas morning, it is making friends, family, or even total strangers happy and showing them your appreciation. I seriously can not express my thanks to Mr.D. I wish the best of luck to you. - Alyssa (Q-TIp) Cusson

Helen Huang Posted over a year ago

Though I only had Mr. D for a teacher in my freshman year, I watched him change my life and the lives of those around me throughout all four years of high school. After seeing him act so selflessly toward others for so many years, I can say with confidence that no one deserves the LifeChanger of the Year award more than Mr. DiBona. Mr. D has spearheaded many programs at the high school that have been crucial to the growth, development, and happiness of students there. A few of those programs are Poetry Out Loud (POL), the 40% Club (also known as the Happiness Club), Literary Guild, and Philosophy Club. Poetry Out Loud has provided a creative outlet for students of all grades, and the competition has become one of the most popular events at the high school. One of my best friends participated in the program when we were in high school, and it became one of the defining activities of her high school career. Through POL, she discovered her passion for poetry recitation. Mr. D dedicated hours upon hours of his time to help her advance all the way to the state finals, despite how busy he already was as a teacher and advisor for the 40% club. Mr. D’s selflessness explains how he can cultivate such strong relationships with students. Every year, Mr. D asks alumni to return to the high school and help him judge for POL. So many previous students (from freshmen to seniors in college) respond to his request that he always has more people volunteering than he needs. Alumni like myself are more than happy to take time out of our winter break to return to the high school because we want to support Mr. D in any way we can, as thanks for all that he did for us in high school. His former students have so much to thank him for because he was more than just our freshman year English teacher. He was someone who actively tried to bring literature and learning to life for us. He was someone who led the 40% Club to bring happiness to the lives of students, faculty, and members of the greater community. He was someone who, in addition to all that he was already doing, happily agreed to look over college application essays and write recommendations for seniors. He was someone who went above and beyond what it means to be a good teacher, and he did so with a smile on his face and never-ending good humor. Finally, I would like to note that myself and many of the people who have already commented below are college students who had Mr. D as their teacher in 9th grade. Even though it has been four or more years since Mr. D taught us, we would never pass over an opportunity to tell the world about how amazing of a teacher and person he is. The fact that we still care so much about him despite all this time should speak volumes to how significant of an impact he has had on our lives.

Kaylee Posted over a year ago

I did not have Mr.D as a freshman for English, but I really wish that I did! This year as a sophomore I joined the 40% club, and I was probably one of the best decisions that I have made to this point in high school. Mr.D cares very much about his students and the Franklin High School community. It has been a pleasure working with him and I can't wait to see what he has in store for the future of the 40% club.

Sara Posted over a year ago

I never had Mr. D as a teacher. My sister did and some of my friends did, but that was really the extent of how well I knew him. But then he started calling me out in the hallways when I became a freshman, recognizing me from my older sister. He created a personal connection with me and made me feel comfortable in a new, giant, scary school where I felt lonely, scared, and awkward. He created the 40% Club, the Happiness Club. I am all about happiness and positivity and there is no better person to have created this powerful positivity machine because he embodies the word positivity. Through his wonderful creation, he has changed the lives of so many people. The residents at a local nursing home, the students of our school, the faculty, administration, janitorial staff and cafeteria staff. And me. He has brought so much joy to our whole community, not just our high school community, but our whole town. He has definitely changed my life, and I am positive that he has changed countless others'. He deserves this award.

Jordan Ellis Posted over a year ago

In the future 25 years from now if you were to ask me the best teacher I ever had, my answer would be Mr. D. He made my freshmen year a success by pushing me out of my comfort zone and realizing my potential. His use of humor and empathy combined is what makes Mr. D so special. His class made me want to go to school. I was doing fantastic in his class my 3rd quarter, and instead of just seeing I had the highest average of his honors classes, he made sure to call my mom and tell her how good I was doing. He took that extra step to tell my success to others to make me more confident and make me realize how great of a kid I was. When Mr. D's having a bad day, he doesn't let it bring him down. He stays his upbeat and uplifting self in hopes of making someone else's day a bit better. His caring and passion for his students learning shines through everyday at FHS. I'm proud to call Mr. D one of my role models and if anyone deserves an award for being a lifechanger. It's him. I could never thank him enough for what he's done for me.

Arianna Scala Posted over a year ago

Going into freshman I wasn't a very confident or vocal person. I constantly second guessed my answers in class and compared myself to others who I believed to be "smarter" than me. However this shortly changed. Freshman year I was ever so lucky enough to have Mr. DiBona as my English 9 Honors teacher and I can wholeheartedly say that I have forever been changed for the better. Mr. D taught me how to take chances even though my answer wouldn't always be correct; he also taught me how to be okay with not always being right. He taught me that there was more to receiving an education than just the grade I got on the last assignment. He acknowledges each students individually and goes out of his way to personally connect with each of us in order for us to achieve success. Now being a junior, seeing Mr. D in the halls always puts a smile on my face and when I find myself struggling I remind myself that school isn't meant to be easy and learning comes from making mistakes. I will forever be grateful for Mr. D and truly believe he should be strongly considered for the LifeChanger of the Year award.

Rachel Gillis Posted over a year ago

Everyday I walked into Mr. D's class excited for what was in store. His witty, fun humor has an amazing way of lighting up an entire room. English was never my favorite subject, but my freshman year he made it absolutely incredible. I always wondered why Mr. D was a freshman english teacher because he is intelligent enough to teach seniors or college students. So one day I decided to ask him. He replied that he likes to reach the younger kids so that he could make more of an impact on them. I am so glad he was my freshman english teacher because then I had 3 more years to enjoy working with him and learning from him. Earlier this year I had begun to work on my college essay. I had an idea, but executing it was going to be the hard part. Mr. D spents hours with me reading over my essay and helping me to show myself through my writing. I wouldn't have trusted any other teacher to do the same with me. I am a better person, writer, and student because of Mr. D. I can truly say he is one of the best teachers in the entire world.

Jason Kleinberg Posted over a year ago

Truly honored to have had Mr. D in my freshman year (6 years ago). He taught me english skills, but more importantly he taught me how to stick up for myself, ask for help, and that it is ok not to be perfect! There is nobody better to win this award than the man who helped inspire me to major in education! Thank you for everything Mr. D!

Tatiana Havens Posted over a year ago

Mr. DiBona has never stopped being a constant support system for me. I graduated three years ago and he still checks in and remains interested in seeing my growth as a student and person. Teachers change lives, and Mr. D has certainly changed mine! Best of luck Mr. D, you deserve the absolute best because that's all you've ever given your students!!

Pamela Vickery Posted over a year ago

We have had the experience to live the n a community with many dedicated teachers and Mr. DiBona is, without question, the best of the best. He inspires his students to reach beyond what they thought were their limits and takes the time to know them well enough to be able to reach out to them individually.

Shannon Darcey Posted over a year ago

Mr. D really makes things happen that improve the environment of the school and beyond. His class is always a fun one to go to because he makes us laugh AND learn at the same time. He’s a great English teacher and a great head of the 40% club. I was hesitant to join 40% club at the beginning of the year because I didn’t think I was a happy enough person to contribute to the mission of it. I ended up going with my friends and I’m glad I did. Mr. D really cares about the happiness of the kids and wants to make a difference in the school and community, no matter big or small. It’s been a huge success and reached far past just Franklin.

Claudia Deverdits Posted over a year ago

Walking into the high school for the first time, all I could think about was, 'What are my teachers going to be like?" English was my 4th period and walking in I was so nervous, even though my 8th-grade English teacher said that Mr.D was the best 9th-grade English teacher you could get. All that changed once Mr. D started his lesson. Within 10 minutes of class, everyone was laughing, and he told us that every English class we have, we will always laugh and he really tries to put humor into every one of his lessons. Mr.D is truly a one of a kind teacher, and I've never had a teacher that tried to make us laugh every class. It was always just paying attention in class and doing the work assigned, which is still the case, but Mr.D makes the classes so much more interesting. I've rarely had a teacher that makes us feel truly appreciated. Whenever I write an essay or a paragraph, Mr.D gives me great feedback to improve for the next time and he cares that we succeed not just in his class but in school and life. Every day now, all I look forward to is my English class. I may not even be through half of Freshman year with Mr.D, but thank you for everything that you do to help make high school a better place and I know I will continue to appreciate everything you do for us throughout high school and on. He really has changed my life.

Julia Dickinson Posted over a year ago

This guy. This guy is one of the good ones. Mr. D truly and genuinely CARES about people, about his students, about any and everyone. He's crafted this melodic, contagious, special way of talking to his kids- brightening their day almost instantly. He's so charismatic when he talks, he wraps his kids up in his own personal stories, literature and words of hope and wisdom. I had never met a teacher before that I could actually also call my friend. As a current Senior- I still visit and chat with him, and he's still the same man I knew three years ago- his sparkle hasn't dulled, he's still as chipper and positive, and caring as ever. Even when he's having a rough day he's able to push past his woes and use it as fuel to take kids on a journey through literature, life skills, and just how to be a decent person. His classroom is a community of wonder, his character shines throughout the most boring of lesson topics. Freshman year was hard for me. I was going through a lot difficult things, and I remember so vividly not passing in an essay that was due. I was so caught up in other things that I hadn't even cared. Mr. DiBona took me out into the hallway after I still had not handed it in a while later. I thought I'd be in trouble, I was so nervous to disappoint the man I had looked up to and the man who brought me out of my shell. Instead of scolding me, he simply asked me what was going on, and if everything was okay. He asked if I needed someone to talk to, it was the first time a teacher actually cared about me as a person, not just a student. I'm not just an assignment to him. I'm not just a number on a chart. None of us are, and he sees that. We are all people trying to navigate through life, to navigate through hardships and disillusionment. He's so genuine and kind and I could not imagine what the rest of my high school career would have looked like if I didn't have him as a teacher, a mentor, a friend, a person. Mr. D, I know I'm often sarcastic and joking around you, but I don't tell you enough, you're a great person, a great human being. I don't know where I'd be without the little things you did for me even if they didn't seem like much. You are the type of person I want to become. He deserves this. He really does. Thank you. For everything.

Charlotte Lynch Posted over a year ago

Mr. DiBona has been one of the greatest influences for my daughter throughout her years of high school.

Laura Lynch Posted over a year ago

If I was asked to compose a list of the most influential people in my life, Mr. DiBona would undoubtedly hold the top spot. Having Mr. D as a teacher is like receiving a winning lottery ticket. On my first day of freshman year almost four years ago, I was a nervous wreck in an entirely new environment. When second period English came around, I was still extremely nervous. Mr. DiBona entered the room overflowing with contagious energy that spread like wildfire and I knew it was going to be a great year in English class. He exceeded my expectations for the year; he is compassionate, motivated, humorous, and the epitome of a role model. Mr. D was the first teacher of my high school experience to encourage me to explore life outside of my comfort zone, as well as take time to develop individual connections not only with his classes as a whole, but with students individually. Now, in my final months of high school, I continue to reach out to Mr. D as a mentor for anything from senior project to gossip to writing essays. Without Mr. DiBona, I would not be as confident as I am today. Thank you, Mr. DiBona, for absolutely everything.

Melissa Marchese Posted over a year ago

Mr. D is the best teacher that I have ever had. Not only did he allow me to become a better student and a better writer but, he has allowed me to grow into a better person. He doesn't just teach his students the curriculum, he teaches them important life skills that I myself have cherished and will take with me as I go to college next year. I have had my fair share of not being as happy as I should and a lot of that derived from being overwhelmed with school work. Mr. D started the 40% club my junior year and I immediately joined. This club has changed my life for the better. I am happier with who I am, more confident, stronger emotionally, and more giving towards others. This club is now a huge part of my life. I am one of the leaders leading it along with Mr. D. In just the one year that we started this club, we received the MIAA Champions of Wellness award. This club not only changes the lives of those within the club to a happier and more positive lifestyle, but also the people who we make as our targets for our happiness initiatives. The smiles on people's faces when we surprise them with baked goods or a three-course dinner is priceless and shows us that we are making a difference. When I graduate and go to college I want to start a chapter of the 40% club to carry on Mr. D's idea of spreading happiness everywhere. I am so fortunate to know this man and I couldn't thank him enough for what he has done to help me grow into the person that I am today. Thank you so much Mr. D!

Becca Spelman Posted over a year ago

Mr.D definitely changed my life and the way I view my self worth when I had him freshman year of high school. I have always struggled in school but when I got to his class, Mr. D made me feel smart and like my contributions were important. He understood that I was not the most academic person but that my contributions in class were from a different perspective as he told my parents in a parent teacher conference. This made me realize that I am smart and academic in my own way and that shaped how I faced the rest of high school and how I am now facing my studies in college. Thank you for everything Mr.D, you will never truly know how much you did for all of us!

Logan Mitchell Posted over a year ago

Simply a phenomenal human being. A true role model and friend to all those that have the honor of meeting him. Mr. D, you rock.

Maddy Wendell Posted over a year ago

William Arthur Ward once said “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The most inspiring teacher in Franklin High school is Mr. DiBona. As an English nine honors teacher, Mr. D greets his new students with a smile, some wit, and a book. They don’t know it yet, but throughout the course of their freshman year, they will have their minds probed by their teacher, their language, and themselves. A new world unfolds every time they step into the classroom. Mr. D holds his students to a high level of understanding in his classroom. From the first to the last bell, he has the freshmen writing, reading, analyzing, and learning. Also, he uses a rigorous method to cleanse teenagers of their unhealthy obsession with the word “wait.” Whenever a pupil says “wait,” Mr. D exclaims “I’m waiting!”. The student then pauses, corrects him- or herself, and continues on, crutch-free. Meanwhile, Mr. D has a rapid-fire speech pattern that leaves a student entertained, appreciative, and knowledgeable. No time is ever wasted in his classroom. Along with many other things, Mr. D teaches his protégées how to analyze evidence from literature. Before stepping into his classroom, the students have no idea how to look at the diction, syntax, and punctuation of an author. However, Mr. D constantly surprises them with quotes from a book they are reading, poems, or random sayings. He writes or projects the lines onto the board, and then proceeds to point out the importance and significance of a word, a capital letter, or the use of several words together. The students watch with their eyes wide open. Additionally, Mr. D bestows the topic of transcendentalism onto his pupils. He teaches of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau with a certain fervor, explaining their lives and beliefs. Encouraging his students to connect with nature, themselves, and each other, he brings them outside, dissects a quote, or assigns them group projects. He tells his students that they should not stress or worry too much over school. He agrees that school is important, but he also wants his students to live and explore. Now it’s time for first-person view. Mr. D was, by far, my favorite teacher of high school. He inspired me to work extremely hard, taught me to love learning, and instilled a passion for finding the hidden meanings of words and sentences into me. Finally, the thing I enjoy the most about Mr. D is how he tells his students that they, and their ideas, matter. He gave a lesson that I can still see and hear clearly in my mind. In it, he said the three items that determine the significance of a quote are the author, the text, and the reader. The whole year, he drilled into us that the most important thing in symbolism, books, and English is yourself. Your ideas, your insight, and your experiences all create the meanings and themes of literature.

Teisha Poteat Posted over a year ago

I was one of the lucky few to get Mr. DiBona his very first year of teaching, which happened to be my senior year. It is so obvious to anyone who watching that Mr. DiBona cares for his students. He began his first year by calling each of us his “Best and Brightest”. Mr. Dibona believed in us and knew what many teachers fail to see- if you treat a student as they can be, they will rise to your expectation. We felt smart every day when we entered his class. And we left smarter! I am grateful to Mr. DiBona for believing in me, in my writing, and for helping me to believe that I can accomplish difficult things. Even 8 years after teaching me, he helped me edit a children’s book I wrote. He is both caring and dedicated to serving his students, present and past! Hands down, one of the best teachers ever to walk the earth.

Maddie Posted over a year ago

Going into high school I was a very nervous and timid person. I was not one to raise my hand in class or participate in class disscusions. I was also not a person who went “above and beyond” in classes. This all changed the day I walked into Mr. DiBona’s class. He pushed me and other students to share our ideas no matter what they were, to read deeper into literature, and believed in me that the papers I wrote were good, but i had so much potential to make them better. He prepared me so well for English class that I was able jump from 9th grade CP level english and easily pass 10th grade Honors level English. He was also a friendly face to say hello to everyday in the hall. Now in college, Mr. DiBona’s advice, critiques, and writing and reading tips have stuck with me

Aimee Trottier Posted over a year ago

I had Mr. DiBona as my freshman year English teacher, and I can honestly say that I would not be the person I am today if I had not had him. His classroom was always a welcoming and intellectually engaging atmosphere, and I loved going to his class. Freshman year is an intimidating transition, but I always felt a great sense of support and warmth from Mr. DiBona. I am currently a junior at Quinnipiac University earning my Bachelor's in English and Master's in Teaching. In my education classes, my professors tend to ask us to reflect on our past teachers and think about who stood out and made the biggest impact on us, and I always think of Mr. DiBona. He is the type of person that you can just tell that he has found his true calling in life, and that he puts everything he has into educating his students. I am just one of the countless examples of the influence that Mr. DiBona has on his students, both in the classroom and years later. There is no one that I can think of that is more deserving than him.

Alanna Lynch Posted over a year ago

As a former student of Mr. D, it is hard for me to even articulate how much he has truly made a difference in my life. As a freshman in high school, I was lucky enough to be in Mr. D's English 9 honors class. Not only did Mr. D prove to be an exceptional teacher, he became a mentor and role model for me. Mr. D has impacted my life so much that I even wrote one of my college essays about the role he has played in shaping the confident individual I have become. I am sharing this essay with the hopes of conveying just how much Mr. D has changed my life. College Essay: “LYNCH, unfold!” Two words that seem meaningless, inconsequential, yet altered a frightened freshman into who she was always meant to be. My eyes bore a hole into the ground with their strong intensity, and my arms were crossed tightly around my chest, begging for their release. I strategically navigated the halls with a prodigious backpack overflowing with my books and my insecurities. I carried the weight of my insecurities on my back during my first class of the new year: English with Mr. DiBona. I had heard excellent things about Mr. DiBona, but as soon as I walked through the door, I was immediately trembling with fear. For the first couple of weeks I felt like I was the fresh meat that the lion was dying to devour. Mr. DiBona, despite his attire consisting of a sweater vest and a copious amount of hair gel, was certainly as intimidating as a lion. On a typical day of the year, I walked by him in the hall with my arms crossed and my head down per usual, and I heard a voice shout “LYNCH, unfold”. Lynch. That’s me. I swiftly looked up to discern my English teacher gesturing at me to uncross my arms. He explained that my stance made me appear nervous to which I responded, “that’s because I always am”. He chuckled and said, “I am too, but if we pretend to be confident, others will believe it, and eventually, so will we”. That one comment alone changed my perspective and the course of my high school experience. After our encounter, I felt connected to Mr. DiBona. I endured weeks of being playfully made fun of during English class for my skittish behavior, and eventually grew tired of being the stereotypical freshman. I could be confident. I could unfold. So how should I begin to make my voice heard? Why not run for class president and make a speech in front of the entire 410 member student body? I sheepishly stood on the stage the day of the speeches with my fortitude surfacing. I was nervous, but I was unfolding. On Friday I sat restlessly waiting to hear the results over the loudspeaker. The blood rushed to my ears as I anticipated the name “Alanna Lynch” being articulated by the secretary. Thump, thump, thump, silence. I lost. Old Alanna would have taken the loss quietly and stared at her feet, arms crossed, but Mr. DiBona’s voice rang in my head, “LYNCH, unfold”. I would unfold. I am now the president of my class, and my shell was shattered by the encouragement of my English teacher. Mr. DiBona helped me find myself: a confident individual with a passion for leadership. I entered English nine honors expecting to learn how to write a good essay, but Mr. D taught me much more than that. From Mr. D, I learned to be proud of who I am and make the most of my experiences; I learned to unfold.

Kate Fitzgerald Posted over a year ago

Ron DiBona, or Mr. D as students fondly call him, is an exemplary nominee for the LifeChanger of the Year. Although this is my second year working with Ron, our shared passion for teaching and working with students has fostered a strong bond between the two of us. Because I teach 10th grade, I have many of Mr. D’s former students. My first assignment of the year requires students to write a letter of introduction, and I had over a dozen students mention Mr. D by name as having had a major impact on them both in and out of the classroom. I have never heard anything but praise and love for Mr. D from his former students. Mr. D’s commitment to FHS students is incredible and has also consistently reminded me of the beautiful gifts that come along with this profession. One major testament to Mr. D’s dedication toward students’ social and emotional health is his popular and fast growing “Happiness Club”. I have been so inspired by the entire club’s endless efforts to initiate and help spread positivity and kindness throughout the FHS community. Teenagers often have difficulty staying optimistic and positive when burdened with too much homework, pressure form parents, changing friendships, and other insecurities and confusion as they transition, grow and mature. The Happiness Club has grown from 45-80 students in just one year, and their efforts in bringing positivity to FHS are genuinely and perfectly simple but have had visible impacts on the community. Most recently, six of Mr. D’s students from the club have been recognized and are receiving an award from the Champions of Wellness from MIAA due to their leadership in promoting healthy living and wellness within their school community. On a personal note, after the loss of a relative over a recent weekend, it just so happened that Mr. D and his club were outside of FHS that morning, spreading encouragement, love and positivity with posters, stickers, bubbles and the most genuine smiles (yes... at 7:20 am)! I was moved to tears. Additionally, Mr. DiBona advises a Literary Guild Club, in which 20 students read and then get together after school (on Fridays!) to discuss literature and bond over relatable thematic topics. Lastly, Mr. D also runs a Philosophy Club with an additional 15 students. Aside from his weekly hours teaching and running clubs, Mr. D tutors a few days each week, helps run a college essay session over the summer, attends sporting events, chaperones proms, and has attended graduation ceremonies for the past 6 years. Ron DiBoba meets and exceeds all the criteria for this award as he continues to help students adapt and thrive. Mr. D’s impact within the FHS community and student body has helped hundreds of students succeed in living and learning at their fullest potential. It is with my highest confidence that I nominate Ron DiBona to be considered 2017’s LifeChanger of the Year.