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Retiring DHS Staffer Shepherded Thousands of Students to Chart Their Next Course

October 13, 2021

As we know, life is a journey. For Leann Nobida that odyssey began as a youth in Michigan, then to personal and professional success in California and will now shift to Washington state by the end of October. While employed at Dublin High School as a College & Career Specialist, she has had the rare opportunity to guide students – regardless of where their post-high school path might take them. As an active parent volunteer that supported her two children at DHS, a professional opportunity emerged that would allow her to impact many more students.

To appreciate the College & Career Center, one must appreciate its evolution. With the confidence granted to her by the school administration, Ms. Nobida created a vibrant environment that transcended the mere name of the space. Among other things, the center served as a temporary meeting place for clubs, a quiet space for those that needed it, a central repository for scholarship opportunities, a location to host “First Friday” discussions and even a place to see a friendly face. Throughout the past seven years a countless number of students have gained resources that have impacted their post-DHS route. We recently sat down with Leann to reflect on her experiences and accomplishments.

Ms. Leann Nobida, retired Dublin High School College & Career Specialist. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

OneDublin.org: Growing up in the “Mitten State”, you made a conscious decision to enlist in the US Army and you ultimately served abroad in Germany. When you think back on that experience, how did this impact you and the arc of your life?

Leann Nobida: “I grew up just outside of Detroit, Michigan. Upon graduation, I attended a local community college for a bit, but knowing that I needed a change of scenery, I joined the United States Army. I spent the following six years stationed overseas in Germany, which impacted my life tremendously.  At the age of 20, I immediately had to learn how to navigate living in a foreign country, with few friends and no family. Initially it was very difficult, but I embraced the challenge. Within two years, I earned the rank of Sergeant, had my own apartment in a small village outside of Frankfurt, and on my off time, I traveled throughout Europe. I have many fond memories of my time in the service, and was thankful to witness first-hand, many historical moments to include the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

OneDublin.org: Under your guidance, the DHS College & Career Center has truly evolved. Educate us on what you inherited seven years ago to the type of resource that it has become. 

Nobida: “Seven years ago, I was approached by then-Vice Principal Mr. Bill Branca to apply for the position of College and Career Specialist at Dublin High School. When I arrived, there was not much traffic, and I knew this had to change because there was so much the Career Center had to offer. Being a parent of two DHS graduates and volunteering as the DHS Varsity football parent, I knew that communication was key. Reaching out to students, parents, staff, and community members directly, was my number one priority. I believe this, coupled with the embedded Gael period into the DHS schedule, made the Career Center a place to get help, or simply just hang out and do homework.”

OneDublin.org: The ROP program is near and dear to you. For those that may be unfamiliar, please articulate the value of this alternative for students that may want to chart a different career path. 

Nobida: “The position of College and Career Specialist at Dublin High School is funded by Dublin Unified School District and the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program (TVROP). Dublin High School has over 500 students taking ROP classes per school year. For those that are unfamiliar with ROP classes, they are hands-on learning opportunities that are embedded into a student’s school schedule. Some are on our DHS campus like – Intro Criminal Justice, Animation, Video Game Art Design, Health Careers, Sports Medicine and our Business and Marketing Classes. Students also have the opportunity to travel to other high schools in Livermore and Pleasanton. Examples of these classes are Auto Body and Auto Technology, Medical Occupations, Nursing, Developmental Psychology of Children, Criminal Justice Academy and Emergency Medical Responder. These classes are near and dear to my heart because of our phenomenal ROP teachers and because these classes provide a bridge from school to a continuing education and career.” 

OneDublin.org: With each succeeding year, the quantity and the sheer monetary value of college scholarships made available to DHS students through your stewardship has increased. Give us a sense of the numbers for the recent Class of 2020 and why you have enjoyed pursuing these opportunities. 

Nobida: “My absolute favorite part of this job was performing the duties of scholarship coordinator because there is nothing better than trying to give away money. Each week I would share a list of opportunities for our students, in particular our Seniors, and then try to further identify those that were eligible and encourage them to apply. Each year I would set a goal for the current class to exceed the previous year. Last year, the class of 2021 earned $5,325,277! This figure included community, national, military and collegiate awards. It was an absolute honor to work with our community members that offered these generous opportunities for our students.”

OneDublin.org: You were an early advocate of the Video Production program and were an initial recipient of the “Reel Award.” Tell us why you were so passionate in supporting this program.

Nobida: “There are so many great pathways that our high school has to offer, but one of my favorites is our Video Production program, and this is because of the teacher, Mr. Michael D’Ambrosio. We started at Dublin High School around the same time and from the very moment I met him, I immediately knew that he was very special and incredibly focused on student’s well-being and achievements.  One day in passing, Mr. D’Ambrosio mentioned that for his class final, students needed to submit a film. I suggested “Hey, why not host a film festival?”  He immediately took the ball and ran with it. And, each and every year, it is the must-see event on our campus.  I am so amazed at our talented students and their ability to create such works of art, and for some share, very heartfelt and emotional pieces. Bravo to Mr. D’Ambrosio and I hope to come back to attend this year’s festival – if I can get a ticket before it sells out!”

OneDublin.org: In closing, what would you like to say to your DHS colleagues and to present/past students that you have served?

Nobida: “As I head off into retirement, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that I have worked with along the way – our Dublin High School leaders, Mrs. Shimizu and Ms. Byrne, the administration and staff at Dublin High School and Tri-Valley ROP, our community members and parents.  Most of all, I would like to thank each and every one of the students that reached out to me along the way for assistance, those that participated in ROP classes and GETSET (Girls Exploring Technology Science and Engineering Together), or those that came to the Career Center to just hang out.  One of my fondest memories was of a student who would just come to my room occasionally to pace and ask questions. I would just sit there and nod my head and oftentimes, he would answer his own questions. He would then thank me and leave. I learned from this student that sometimes our kids just need someone to talk to and a place to sort things out. He is one example of the many students that truly made this job one of the best I ever had. Serving at the Dublin High School College and Career Center Specialist was an honor of a lifetime – thank you to all!”

To round out this profile, we wanted to enlist the thoughts of a fellow staff member. As previously referenced Video Production program has expanded exponentially over the past seven years. In the spirit of peers supporting each other, we offered Michael D’Ambrosio the opportunity to share his perspective – one that is also grounded in friendship.

Mr. Michael D’Ambrosio (right, down front), instructor for Video Production with his VP3 class. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

OneDublin.org: You and Ms. Nobida commenced employment at DHS at the same time seven years ago. As a staff member, she was an early advocate for a first ever Film Festival. Express what her enthusiasm and support have meant to this annual event.

Michael D’Ambrosio: “Ms. Nobida is the founder of the DHS Film Festival. One day I remember vividly walking into the Career Center and telling her how a few of my students made a film for the heck of it (Croak Road), and she said you need to find a way to showcase this. She went on to bring up the idea of having kids make films and put on a film festival, and the rest is history. I can truly say without Ms. Nobida our program would not be where it is today. She believed in the students in the program from day one when I arrived, and continues to do so today, and for that I am forever grateful. That’s who Ms. Nobida is though, she is someone who bettered DHS, and always wanted to find ways to show the amazing talents of our school. She really cares deeply about our students, and she is a Gael through and through.”

OneDublin.org: Through video production and other avenues, you have gotten to know the Nobida family well. Speaking on behalf of your colleagues, what would you like to express to Leann and her crew?

D’Ambrosio: “Wow to be honest this is difficult to write. Leann is such a huge part of DHS and she will surely be missed. There are so many things she did that many people don’t even know about. Whether it’s cheering up a student, always asking a teacher or student if they needed help, or just being supportive of any idea someone had. Her job is the reason why she was on campus every day, but her work went far beyond her job description, and any student or colleague who has ever stepped into the career center would agree. The Nobida crew, as a whole have always played a huge part on the DHS campus. Heck, I even hired her daughter to be one of my videographers for my wedding this past August. Leann is a special person, and beyond the awesome laugh, delicious cookies her husband would make, and her demonstration of a true Gael what I will miss most is her presence. Every morning I would walk by her office for the past 7+ years and she was part of my morning routine, and now that walk will be a little different, but our appreciation for everything she has done for DHS will never be forgotten. Thank you, Leann! We will miss you.”

For Leann, the journey continues. And thanks to her efforts and foresight, so many Dublin High School graduates have benefited from her ability to open new doors and pathways that may not have been previously considered. OneDublin.org would like to thank Ms. Nobida for sharing her story and quest to provide each student every possible opportunity. To the Nobida family, we simply say “Auf Wiedersehen” as we will see you again.

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