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WHO PUSHED HIMSELF AND HIS STUDENTS MY TEACHER AND COACH
In light of Teacher’s Day this month, I want to write about a teacher who was very inspiring to me. Ray Hughs taught me in both junior high and high school, first as a history teacher and then as my freshman track coach. What is remarkable about Ray, and why I decided to write about him today, is how hard he pushed himself and his students. Whether it was in the classroom or out on the track, Ray was the type of educator who would spend a lot of time with you, helping in any way he could and pushing you to your limits. In track, I was a high jumper, and Ray would spend hours coaching me even though he was a runner. Something interesting happened one weekend when I went to the track to get in some extra practice. I found a three- ring notebook laying near the track and opened it up. I realized after reading a few lines that it was Ray’s journal he had left by mistake. I admit I was curious, and I ended up reading a little bit more. Each page was full of what his goals were for that day, how “No matter what we do or how we come out of a situation, what counts is that we can look back and say we did our best.”
he felt about working toward them, and how he accomplished the tasks. The most remarkable thing was how he remained positive throughout the entire notebook, whether he achieved the daily goal or not. When I went back to school the following Monday and returned the notebook to him, he was very thankful. Ray was setting these goals and training hard because he hoped to go to the Olympics and participate in the steeplechase. The race is 3 kilometers long, or 1.86 miles, and athletes have to jump over hurdles and through a water pit. Ray worked very hard and made it onto the Olympic team, but a week before he left, he severely sprained his ankle and couldn’t go. After he got hurt, our class was devastated. We were rooting for him, and all of us knew how hard he worked. However, Ray’s reaction to the situation was really admirable, and he continued to be his positive self.
ankle, and he didn’t even flinch while telling us about it. Ray simply said, “It was an honor for me to do this, and even though I wasn’t able to go, I was able to participate. I know that I did my best, and that’s why it’s okay.” This short speech held perhaps the greatest lesson he taught his students. No matter what we do or how we come out of a situation, what counts is that we can look back and say we did our best. That’s stuck with me for a long, long time. This year, I might have a chance to see him again. My graduating class is planning our 50-year reunion, and we’ve invited Ray to come and visit with us. He’s in his late 80s now, which is a little shocking to me — he was a young man when I knew him in school. I think it’ll be great to see everyone again, especially to catch up with Ray after so long. -Travis Black
I can vividly recall the first time he walked into our classroom after he sprained his
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