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TEACHER HERO:
MR. CHRIS DEGER
by the Scout from USCGA

A hero to me is someone who looks to do more for other people than for themselves, and who motivates others to attain all that they can. That person for me is Mr. Chris Deger. Mr. Deger has inspired me to be a better person and an even better leader. He is part of the reason why I chose to be a member of the United States Coast Guard.

Mr. Deger has been a hero of mine during my high school years in his positions as a teacher, coach, employer, and mentor. He was my freshman year World Cultures teacher. I anticipated that the class would be very boring, but Mr. Deger made it interesting. He makes the content of what he is teaching very exciting for all of his students. He knows that most children these days don't have the attention span to sit through a class of constant lecture. Through his abundant vernacular, showing of films that relate to the subject topic, and the occasional eating of chalk, Mr. Deger can excite any sleeping or otherwise unmotivated student. Due to his enthusiasm in the social sciences, I became more interested in the history and cultures of the world.

From the classroom and into the pool, Mr. Deger inspires many young people. He is the head swimming coach for the girls' and boys' varsity swim teams. Mr. Deger is an inspiration to all members of the teams. He sees the potential in every member of our team and tries to get the best effort from each of us. With our individual goals in mind, he knows just how far to push us. He tells each swimmer what is expected in order for him and the team to succeed. He inspires team members to achieve and surpass their goals. Mr. Deger is empathetic towards each of his students and swimmers. He gives up a lot of time in order to be at practice at 5:45 AM and is not home until past 7 PM. Somehow he spends time with his children and attends their activities. Even after the swim season is over, Mr. Deger comes to school early to allow us to continue to swim. He is ready to give up his own time because he realizes just how important the extra practice is to us so that we can stay in shape for the next season and reach our full potential.

Mr. Deger is not only my coach, but also my employer. He gave me a job as a lifeguard at the Park Ridge Country Club this past summer. As a boss, Mr. Deger is as motivating and encouraging as he is in the roles of teacher and coach. He put his faith in me this summer by appointing me to be one of the few employees allowed to open and prepare the pool in the morning. He selected me to be one of the swim coaches for the Country Club Dolphins Swim Team and to be a private swim instructor for the younger kids, despite not having seniority over other lifeguards. Due to the positive environment that he created at work, I learned a lot and enjoyed my summer job. I hated to leave such a positive environment when I left for the Academy, but I knew it was what was best for me. Mr. Deger was sad to see me go, too. He had looked forward to working with me all through my college years; but, he too, realized how good this opportunity was for me and "for the Coast Guard."

Mr. Deger has served as a mentor to me. Mr. Deger and I stay at the pool after school talking about whatever is on our minds, such as college aspirations, life in high school, and swimming. He is knowledgeable about history and random trivia, and is extremely witty. He keeps me smiling on the days when something gets me down.

Mr. Deger has always been a very modest man. Even though he a can afford the fancy car and the hippest clothing, he wears a simple dress shirt and pants with a collection of colorful ties that have been given as gifts by the swim team since he started coaching. He keeps the majority of his clothing in his office at the pool, including about two hundred of the ties that the swimmers have given him, so that he can come to work in his pajamas and change there. He does this so that he can open up the pool early for us to practice. He drives a used Ford because he would rather spend money so that his kids can go to good colleges than drive an extravagant car.

I have tried to model Mr. Deger's characteristics of setting a good example, providing moral support, and being able to motivate a group. I have adapted this style as a leader in my gym class, Police Explorers and Adventure Club. As a result of knowing Mr. Deger, I will be a better leader. Like Mr. Deger, I will give guidance and encouragement in a way that allows others to solve their own problems. I will make sure that every member of a team that I working with is included in reaching team goals. I will encourage people to step out of their comfort zones in order to allow themselves to grow. I will use Mr. Deger's example of working hard, doing my best, and maintaining a positive attitude as a swimmer, college student, and in my career in the Coast Guard.


Written by the Scout from USCGA
This story has been submitted by a guest user and does not necessarily represent the views of The My Hero Project or its staff.

Last changed on: 3/22/2009 10:23:04 AM

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