Mr. Dougher: A Lesson in Determination


Kayleigh Wilson, staff writer

In the STEM wing, students can find Mr. Dougher enthusiastically teaching. This might be AP Biology, Honors Biology, or one of the two Rutgers courses: Dynamics of Healthcare in Society and Medical Terminology. 

However, they probably don’t know that he began his career teaching second graders. His first degree was in elementary education from The College of New Jersey, where he participated in varsity swimming. His first job was a maternity replacement in Berkeley Heights, NJ. Mr. Dougher also taught second grade in Bernardsville, NJ. 

He said: “I’ve always been involved in teaching. My mother was a special education teacher as a second career, and so I got to spend a lot of time just learning about teaching and I’ve always enjoyed knowledge and education and stuff of that nature.”

Mr. Dougher then moved to Baltimore. He said: “swimming was the main reason why I had moved down to Baltimore. It was because I had a job opportunity to coach at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, which was where Michael Phelps was swimming at the time.”

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity he could not pass up. 

After coaching, Mr. Dougher decided to get his post-baccalaureate in biology at Towson University in Maryland. He used this degree to attend medical school in West Virginia. 

Although Mr. Dougher faced many challenges, he always stayed determined.

“I’m diligent, I don’t get discouraged very easily,” he said.

Unfortunately, during medical school, Mr. Dougher had a stroke.

After missing school to recover, one of the biggest struggles was “trying to make a decision about whether or not I wanted to stay in medical school because that was something that I had changed my entire career path for.”

By then, he had been in school for 7 or 8 years. It was hard to make the choice to stay or go back to teaching. He said: “I hadn’t finished my third and fourth year rotations yet, so there was a lot of other learning that needed to go on.”

Jim Wood, Mr. Dougher’s old swim coach at Berkeley Aquatics, gave him helpful advice. Mr. Dougher said: “He was always somebody that I would turn to and talk to him about what I wanted to do in my life.”

The advice Wood gave him was: “you just have to be happy in what you choose to do,” and to consider the schooling he needed to finish. This helped Mr. Dougher choose to continue his passion for teaching.

Mr. Dougher made it back to New Jersey by coaching at Berkeley Aquatics. As he searched for a teaching job in state, New Providence had an opening.

“I live in Chatham, so it was really easy for me to just make that commute,” Mr. Dougher said.

One of Mr. Dougher’s strengths as a teacher is his love for his job. Even though he went through years of schooling, coached, and faced a stroke, Mr. Dougher’s passion for teaching never stopped. 

Students can tell that Mr. Dougher truly cares about teaching and the impact he makes because of his liveliness during class. This allows students to stay engaged during class. He said that his “favorite thing about teaching is seeing the spark of interest in students.” 

“I think that I am very passionate about what I do,” he said.

He thinks that being a teacher is so much a part of who he is, that even if he had stayed in medicine, he would have ended up teaching there.