I Love My Job: Milton Hershey School Teacher, Mentor, and Swimming Coach
By Heather Dougherty, MHS Teacher and Head Swimming and Diving Coach
For many people, one job is enough. But for me, as a parent of three active children, staying busy is a way of life. As a science teacher at Milton Hershey School, I get to play many roles across campus. Better yet, I get to interact and grow relationships with students as a mentor and head coach of the MHS Swimming and Diving team.
I went into teaching because I had a passion for working with students but being able to help them develop their skills outside the classroom emphasizes that passion even more. Over the six years that I’ve coached the MHS Swimming and Diving team, I’ve gotten to know students I wouldn’t have otherwise met.
My role as a coach is incredibly rewarding. I have helped develop swimmers who never swam before coming to MHS into competitive athletes. I also helped them gain access to community pools while on breaks in their home communities to hone their skills beyond the walls of MHS. What I didn’t know when I first started coaching, though, was how much I would learn from the students and look forward to going to practices and meets.
When our students enroll at MHS, they are committing to time away from their families and home communities. The role that our team and community play to support our students is important. It is also important to connect our students’ families to the school. One way we do that is through our robust livestream system that allows parents/sponsors and families to watch their students’ athletic successes from wherever they are.
I have had student-athletes from Florida and Texas whose home communities can watch every swim meet from thousands of miles away from Hershey, Pennsylvania with the new addition of a livestream camera to the pool. This connection will add value to our program and includes the parents/sponsors and families of our athletes in our support system.
As a coach, what constantly blows me away is how well our students represent themselves and MHS while at meets. Many coaches have approached me about the level of sportsmanship our swimmers showcase. This goes to show how the school’s character and leadership curriculum expands past the classroom and student home to help MHS students become well-rounded and ready to conquer challenges.
All that to say, I love the many hats I wear at MHS and the opportunity I’ve had to grow as a teacher, coach, and mentor, because of them.