2016 #ClubDaugherty Review: Hit The Dirt!


While being easily distracted during this peaceful Christmas Break, I’ve spent the past several hours sipping coffee and reading over several years* worth of yearly recaps on this very website. It is fun to reflect on what has happened over the course of five years, and just like those entries in the past, I look forward to sharing with you our lives in 2016.

I think friendship is the key term to describe 2016. Truly the year was split in half for Darco and myself. The first half from January to July, and the second half from July to December.

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I have a few artist in class

I continued to teach in 2016. By God’s grace my contract was renewed for the 2016-2017 school year. Teaching the same grade, working with the same people, and hanging out in the same school. Darco had a rougher start to 2016, the numbers for her store weren’t exactly what she was looking for, and this resulted in some serious stress for both of us. As anyone with a significant other could tell you, seeing someone else suffer because of stress is a hard thing to handle. Thankfully, we were still getting accustomed to our new home near the lake, and outside of her job, it was rather peaceful. I was

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I’m the…well…you already know

running races on the road each month, all part of a giant statewide circuit, and somehow wound up winning the state title for the 5K in my age group. Darco also hung out with me while I tried a 44 mile relay race with some local runners. Naturally, for the safety of everyone, I ran the shortest legs on the course. One of the runners though; she was nuts. She had ran a 50K the day before out in the middle of Kansas, signed up with our group, ran around 14 miles, and then decided she would go home and go to bed. Did I mention that she also was one of the top finishers of the 50K?

 

So peaceful that when June came around we decided that we could potentially host people in our home if they came to visit. Meaning, opposite of 2015, our friends from Pittsburgh, 13323407_851041924776_2669912194769923398_oPennsylvania came to visit us. With a catch…there was three of them! True story, we found out a few weeks prior to their visit that they were expecting their first child. Hanging out with them while visiting the city south of us continued to demonstrate to myself how strong friendship ties can be, and how important they are for the overall health of an individual.

July brought about the heat and summer break. I spent most of my days planning out lessons for the upcoming school year, looking at road races, and going to training sessions throughout the city. Darco was knee deep in her store; slowly by mid-year she was starting to see a change in the sales pattern of her store. A deep breath for her for sure, and the passion of what she was doing was reignited.

It was after our July 4th annual road race, the things started to drastically change for the

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This is becoming a routine sight

two of us in the running world. I had been admitted into a running ambassador program for one of our local running stores. Because of this I was around all sorts of runners; 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, all sorts of craziness! These people were obsessed with time, nutrition, and shoes. Realistically they were a positive group to be around, both for myself and for Darco. That was until one of them, during a speed session at a local high school, suggested that I join them on a Monday night run.

That changed everything.

That night run wound up being in the woods with about 15 other crazy people. They weren’t runners, they were trail runners, and some of them were ultra marathon runners. All of sudden, in the middle of the summer, I was exposed to this world of running through the woods, on random trails made of dirt and rocks, and having fun in the process. I had originally thought it was just me that this new adventure was going to affect. Originally I hadn’t noticed my wife quietly watching from the sideline…wanting to join in. We both ditched road running for good and decided together we would try this trail thing. It was hot, hard, and probably deadly. It was fun though. I ran my first race in July, Darco ran her

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She amazes me

first race in October. Combined we have run the following distances: 5 Mile, 7 Mile, 10 Mile, 25 K, 20 Mile, and 21 Mile.

The most amazing part was what it did to us on the social level. Suddenly we were on the trails with groups of people 4-5 days a week. We would eat dinner together, travel together, and motivate each other. The person who got me started, I was even able to watch them finish their first 100 Mile race. We wound up in the middle of Missouri, Nebraska, and Arkansas through the second half of the year. Sweat pants have been switched out for tech shirts, and shoes have become as important as our food. It is hard to express in words what trail running has done for us. Partly the physical side of things, partly the social side of things, and partially the marital side of things. We have had several trail dates that involves walking, running, sweating, and just enjoying each others company. I never thought I’d say it in a serious tone, but trail running has benefited our marriage in incredible ways.

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That is her heartbeat

Along with our extra-curricular activities Darco was notified that she would be getting a new store. Due to the increase in sales, she will be getting a new building two blocks from my school. She is extremely excited. Her sales are beating last years numbers and she is even looking at additional ‘advancement’ in her company. Trust me, I married an incredibly smart, young woman. Her ability to conduct business is amazing to watch. God has such a unique talent for this lady. There have been moments that I’ve sat in her lobby just watching her; jealous of what is capable of doing. It is humbling. School is back in session for the 2016-2017 year. My kids are amazing; each one of them is an incredible gift. This year I’ve made a stronger effort to work better with my peers inside the building; I contribute some of that to the assistance of our running friends working with my social miscues.

We have bounced around churches in the area. Ironically, we have wound up in Darco’s hometown for church on more then one occasion. Our home church kind of came to an abrupt end when the leader announced that him and his family were relocating to Colorado to plant a new church (God has done amazing things in their lives since heading

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We did the adult thing! Landscaping!

out). We are still working on where we belong, but we’re not giving up.

I know in the eyes of many, between deaths, elections, and a combination of both, 2016 has been a rough year. I think this year, personally, is a testament to God’s unfailing love and grace. My wife and I are living a life together that neither of us could have ever imagined. Our financial debt is getting so, so small, and we are looking at realistically purchasing the house that we are currently living in. This is a life that neither one of us deserve, and we know that, but we are grateful God has been so good to us in 2016.

As with any year; thank you for taking the time to humor my random thoughts on this page. My heart is so full this year; I’m truly in a place that I have never found myself before. God is so good.

Here is to a beautiful, God-breathed 2017

-D & Darco-

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Mobile Minutes: Small Victories


Truth: Teaching terrifies me. 

That is one thing that hasn’t changed through all the time of these past couple years. Failure, mistakes, errors, missteps, etc…all the things I encourage my students to experience daily, is professionally what I fear the most. Ironic, yes?
These past few weeks have been laced with errors. One thing after another, I racked up an impressive list of miscues in the world of academia.

This is why I’m grateful for small victories. These last ten weeks I’ve experimented with developing a debate program at our middle school. I firmly believe competition exists outside of courts, gyms, and fields. By God’s grace I wound up with 23 sixth to eighth grade students on a roster for this past quarter. It has been an amazing experience. The students, personally, grew faster in content and comprehension then I had originally predicted. 

I took some of the data from these past weeks and sent it to our high school debate coach to analyze and review.

They were impressed. These middle school students impressed the high school coach! The coach offered to share their teams source material for construction of debates, asking how their students could interact with mine in the spring semester, and just overall gave a tone of excitement.

After a recent rough streak; this was such a blessing to receive. 

-D-

First Vote


There are so many reasons that I love the school that I am able to teach in on a daily basis. So many instructors are insanely creative, administration tends to be very supportive with the wild endeavors, and the students come from every, single walk of life. While it can be crazy at times, it is also a beautiful experience.

Friday demonstrated one of those moments.

I teach social studies in our school. I am teamed up with another social studies teacher who loves to push the limits of young minds. It is inspiring, motivating, and easy to follow along with. Our school, through her guidance, did take part in its own ‘mock election’ yesterday. Students voted on President/Vice-President, Governor, Senate, and House of Representatives for the respective area. All three grade levels voted, with literal booths borrowed from voting establishments, actual “I Voted” stickers, and a registration sheet for students to sign-in on at their arrival. All things considered, it was very professional and reflected strongly what a polling place looks like.

Personally though, it was not the event itself that truly made my heart swell, it was the remark of one specific student:

Our school is incredibly diverse; students come from all different backgrounds; ethnic, racial, religious, etc…A few weeks ago I received a new student, they were originally from a country located in Central America and had only been in the United States for aa few years. Her class was to vote at 12:20 PM on Friday, she came to see me around 10:30 AM and created a fascinating dialogue…

Student: Are we voting in class today?
Me: Yes.
Student: As in, we are going to select political officials?
Me: Yes. It is not real because you are not of voting age, but the simulation is real.
Student: So I get to choose someone?
Me: Yes.
Student: I can tell my family I voted?
Me: Yes.
Student: *tears in eyes* I actually get to do this? I can vote today? This is a real event that is going on in school? I’m so excited. I have heard of people doing this, but I do not know what it is like.
Me: You get to vote today.

Later in the day, after they voted, the student actual ran from their voting booth, exclaiming, tears running down from their chestnut colored eyes…rather loudly in the polling place…”I voted! I got to vote!”

Not as a teacher. Not a social scientist. Just as a citizen, I wish I could have bottled up that raw emotion, that passion, that unknown opportunity and distribute it out amongst the bitter masses that have polluted so much of sociological existence within our culture.

While I do frequently try to avoid topics about politics on here; I would at least challenge you to exist as a citizen with the heart of a 12 year old.

The local news stations covered our elections! Check out the links!
Fox 4
KCTV5
Action 41 News

-D-

#getyourpraiseon


The interesting adventure that is known as teaching comes with many strange opportunities with the territory. Just from the past year and a half I have worked retail, coached, debated over anime characters, and also ensured that students were attempting to be successful in class.

I suppose it comes with the territory of teaching; you wear many hats.

A new path opened itself a few weeks ago, a student came to me wishing to know who was in charge of the debate club inside the school. I gave them the information and quickly ushered them out of my classroom prior to the bell ringing to start class.

ngmd-logo-imageWhat I had not expected was for the student to return with the following…

The instructor from last year cannot do it this year because they are teaching college courses. They said you should do it.

Adding to my hat collection…

Honestly, this is rather exciting. After some work behind the scenes, countless pieces of advise from other instructors, and tapping into the debate network at our local high schools; last Thursday we actually had our first debate club meeting. Students have opportunities to digest current issues around the world, analyze the high school challenge topics for the year through the debate circuit, and even heading into the rest of the year perhaps an opportunity to challenge themselves against high school opponents.

I’m not 100% sure the entire direction of this program, but it is rather exciting, as a former competitor, to be able to give back to the community that gave so much to me.

Resolve: Middle school students should have the opportunity to expand their knowledge base on current events; articulating discussion points in order to persuade a panel that their path is the correct one.

-D-

 

Seasonal Perception


I don’t think I have been alone in my own home for the evening for at least three years. Darco left this evening to spend some time with her friend back home, and that has left me with an empty house, a battle with weevils, and two cats attempting to track down every insect inside their living arrangement.

Translation: All is right with the world (minus no wife this evening).

It is interesting what we perceive as ‘hard’ throughout our lives. At one point running a mile was hard, eventually three miles was hard, then came ten miles, and someday it may be a hundred. So much of ‘hard’ is perceived by the individual in measurement to their own life and past examples.

This past week was hard.

The past several months, if not year has been very low-key for our family. My wife continues to soar at her job, I thoroughly enjoy teaching, and we are finding more and more friends at a daily basis. That is why, based off historic context, this week was hard. My wife and I didn’t see each other awake until yesterday evening, parent-teacher conferences were this week, I had a performance evaluation at work, and other things transpiring within the world of education placed me in a rather unfamiliar position; uncomfortable.

Thursday night, I wound up with something to ‘fidget with’ at work because I was having a hard time paying attention. That isn’t to say what was going on wasn’t important, it was just that my mind was elsewhere. I was trying to solve problems, fix issues, and create solutions in my head for fifteen different problems. Unfortunately, along those terms is also the realization that I likely will not solve any of those problems. I argue that ‘status quo’ is unrealistic and unobtainable; life cannot stay in one specific state through time. There is always something to adjust, tweak, fix, develop, create, or destroy.

The only reason for any of this writing is to merely say that I had a personally challenging week. In no way does that mean that I have endured anything difficult, or overcame anything deemed impossible. Merely noting that in the perception of my own eye versus recent history; this was not the best of weeks and I am glad that like seasonal storms, it too has passed.

-D-

#getyourpraiseon


No school.

Even though the students have been back for only a few weeks, I won’t lie in confessing that an extra day off during Labor Day weekend has been appreciated. Primarily so that I could take care of all the other things around the house that take the sideline through each week.

Time flies.

Teaching a ‘current event’ led course causes me to become immersed in the current trends of our culture, both locally and globally. Frequently it reminds me why I turn myself off to so much of it when school isn’t in session. The world is full of complaints, bitterness, and someone that is always upset with someone else. Someone still wants to build a wall, someone does not want to stand during the national anthem of a money-grabbing sporting event, and the world collectively either freaks out or rolls its eyes.

No wonder so many people struggle to find things to be thankful for in their day-to-day, or just plain forget about what joys are around them.

Driving with the windows rolled down in my truck this morning, while picking up supplies for this upcoming weekend, I was reflecting on what was and what is in my own existence on this planet. When not grading papers, tripping over rocks, or spending time with my wife this is a common place for me to be found. I have come to find enjoyment of seeing where life’s journey has led me in the recent years It continues to remind me how much praise I have yet to give for my time on this planet.

Last night Darco and I started budgeting out costs for carpet replacement in our house. I just brought in a new chair for our entertainment room downstairs, and I think finally we will be going on legitimate vacations during Christmas Break and Spring Break this school year. While I do get tired of listening about Starbucks over and over and over, I do have to admit the blessings that, that company has been in my wife’s life. She will be receiving another raise this month, she will receive a bonus this month, and a few months ago we learned that she will be receiving a brand new store to manage in 2017 (humorously it will be located 1/2 mile away from the school I teach at).

School is always teaching me something new. I have new sets of diversity within my classes this year. While students are still rather innocent, they still arrive with so much baggage and so many questions. I’m blessed because they always keep me on my toes, and I’m always curious as to what adventure we will tackle next in order to make the world a better place. A new year of education has proven to be a stronger year in terms of interaction with peers. I’m trying to work better with my colleagues and do a better job of giving praise in abundance. These folks know so much more compared to myself, and it is a crime if I don’t show them that I am grateful to be able to learn under them.

I didn’t think that running could get better compared to where it was, but somehow, someway it has. Darco joins me more often out on the trails, and she even attends a strength class every Wednesday night. The miles are becoming easier and easier for me. I’ve switched shoes, ate different food (donuts are the answer by the way), and have shown up for more group runs. It just does not hurt nearly as much. My next race is 16.6 miles in the woods of central Missouri next month, Darco is running the same race at a different length, and I’ve gone ahead and signed up for our local half marathon the weekend after that race. It is hard to describe, but the miles just melt by these days. Sure, I still have off runs and I still trip and I still have to fight spiders and mud, but all of that is just a little bit easier. I can feel myself getting faster, being pushed by my friends, and that brings me joy in ways that few things ever have.

Our church journey still isn’t complete. Over the past month Darco and I tried three other churches and sadly left unfulfilled and disappointed. Both for our own reasons. We have arrived back at the church we have been with for a few years now, but I’m still lacking ‘something’. I don’t know what it is, but it is something that burns in my heart throughout the week. I wish I had answers, but I know guidance will come along in its own unique form. I wish I understood more about why I struggle with the church setting. While I wish I could blame all of it on the university that I attended, I know that isn’t the case. It is a mixture of stereotypes, sheep, and my own foolish pride. Make no mistake; God still has so much work to do on me. I’m still convinced that I’m the Christian that people should never want to be.

Work, play, grace, family, home, and so much more. When I take the time to look at the internal works of my own life it becomes so hard to be wrapped up in the hopelessness around me. I don’t say that with pride, but I don’t say it with guilt either. I cannot save the world, but I can fulfill my obligation and responsibility to give praise when it is due.

God has blessed me with a life that I would have never imagined I would have ever had. I did not do a thing to deserve any of it, any of the joy, any of the friendships, any of the grace. That is the amazing thing about how God works; I do not deserve this life because of something I did or did not do, I have this life merely as a testiment of what God’s love looks like.

-D-