Wednesday, May 28, 2014

PASSING THE TORCH

This time next week, I will have retired after a career of 30 years as a middle school social studies teacher.

It is my hope that I have left a positive impression on some of the thousands of students I've taught. It has always been my goal to have had played a role in turning out good citizens.

Throughout my teaching career I have been a competitive runner, and for many of those years, although colleagues have been supportive and cordial, over the past couple of years I feel good about the running legacy I've left upon the staff of the Blue Mountain Middle School in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.

Today, a routine after school 5-mile run with a fellow teacher, grew into a group effort, consisting of six runners, four of whom had never thought about running three scant years ago.

Tom Daugherty, the middle school band director, looks like a linebacker. Three years ago, Tom and I served on lunch duty together. Lunch duty is a delightful endeavor. 250 unleashed 7th graders crammed into a cafeteria, with food as a convenient weapon. Tom would ask me about running, and I would offer advice. He began running as a means of losing weigh. It was successful, as he lost 40 pounds. Soon, his easy jogs became addictive, and he has been a runner ever since, having run races ranging from the 5K to the half marathon.

Randy Nunemacher, a math teacher, was a great high school athlete, who became a dedicated coach, but he allowed the American lifestyle to get to him.

Not anymore!

In less than two years, he dropped over 80 pounds, and has run a 5K in the 23-minute range. He has reclaimed his high school athleticism.

Janelle Hooper, a special education instructor, is the mother of young twins. She has become an avid runner, has competed in a 10-Mile race, and has a half marathon scheduled for the fall.

Jeremy Ferguson, a fellow social studies teacher, is a basketball coach and another big guy. He, too, has participated in a few 5Ks in his brief running career, and is also aiming toward running a half marathon in the fall.

Elizabeth Abel, our school nurse, is the only "veteran" of the group, having run for many years, with a personal best marathon time under 3:20.

There are 3 or 4 other runners in the group who did not participate in today's training run.

It's been an honor, as well as a lot of fun, to pass on some runner's wisdom advice to a truly fine group of people.

There's not a whole lot I'll miss as I 'transition' from my life as a teacher, but I will miss the members of our informal Blue Mountain Running Club.

I'm proud to pass the torch to them.

                                   Tom Daugherty, Jeremy Ferguson, and their coach