Mark Daugherty, Science Teacher
Translating Science to the Real World
Every day, teachers look for ways to make the connection. For Mark Daugherty, it’s his former life. He was once an officer in the Chemical Corps of the U.S. Army, detecting and protecting this nation from chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
Today, Daugherty faces a different challenge each day: a classroom of teens at Stone Middle School who need to be convinced of the value of learning chemistry and physics.
Daugherty will tell you the challenge of working with soldiers and students requires the same skill set. “In the military, you have to motivate,” Daugherty says. “You have people who are asked to do things they don’t want to do. It is the same way with kids. I love what I do. So I tend to get pretty enthusiastic about it and that rubs off on the kids.”
When Daugherty left the military, he made the decision to enter the field of teaching. He went back to school part time to get his education credits and student teaching experience. More than two decades later, he has no regrets.
“Here, I get to see the kids grow. When you are working with 19 to 22 year-old soldiers, they are already formed. I can have a bigger impact on these kids and the growth that you see from the start of the year to the end of the year is immense.”
Daugherty has a few thoughts for anyone considering a career switch.
“It is the hardest and most rewarding work you will ever do,” he says. “You’ve got to be flexible. A lesson hardly ever goes the way you plan, that’s what makes it fun. At the end of every day, you’ll be able to look in the mirror and say that you made a difference.”
When Daugherty brings in the gas masks for students to investigate, the class is reading the book "The Hot Zone". The book focuses on the research into the origins of the Ebola virus. Daugherty uses the book to teach students about the scientific method and how it applies in the real world. A focus on the scientific method is part of the 7th and 8th grade curriculum.