We pass by people each and every day, not knowing where they come from or where they have been. Everyone has their own unique background, which is what makes them different; our backgrounds impact the effects we have on others. This is particularly true for Robert Novak, a 43-year-old man from Depew, New York. Novak grew up lower middle class in a three-bedroom little, brick house with three other siblings and his parents. His conservative upbringing was not very easy and he did not have many people to rely on or trust. But he had a teacher who seemingly was the only one who could empathize with him during this difficult time in his life. This teacher gave Novak support and advice that he still remembers to this day. That is the kind of impact Novak wanted to make in other kids’ lives. Fast forward to the present day, Novak is an Assistant Principal in Baltimore City where he works to make a difference in the lives of his students.
With Covid and all of the challenges it has brought, this year has been a difficult time for all education workers, including Novak. During this pandemic, it has been very hard to connect with his students. Novak states that though “Covid has been challenging… it is always important that you make yourself available to your students in order to support them.” Novak is a very caring individual, so not being able to physically see his students and their struggles was a very difficult aspect of the pandemic. Now that his school is going back to in-person classes, a lot of that worry is going away. Novak states that “I believe the best place for our students is the school building because most of their needs are met.” The kids will now have some meal security and teachers that will be able to provide additional support for them.
But Novak is not just a teacher, he is also a father of three. Teaching can take up so much of a person’s time, so the pandemic has given him the opportunity to spend time with family during the days. He states “the best thing about all of this extra time and flexibility is that I have been able to be around my own children, which has been very meaningful to me.” Novak is dedicated to helping others, so when he really got the chance to enjoy time with family, it was special.
Novak’s dedication to helping others has impacts far beyond what he may ever know, but his work in the community does not go unnoticed.