Digest>Archives> April 2005

People making a difference

Nancy McDougall, a "Beacon of Light"


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Nancy McDougall with her lighthouse presentation ...

For the past four years Nancy McDougall of Zephyrhills, Florida has been taking part in the "Great American Teach In" at an elementary school in Dade City, Florida. If you guessed her presentations were about lighthouses you are correct.

Over the years her presentations have grown.

The first year started with a small display and a children’s lighthouse story to first graders. She gave each one a lighthouse picture to color.

The second year she was invited back to the elementary school and a middle school. She enlarged her display to include backboards with lighthouse pictures that her husband had taken. This time she had the first grade students each draw a picture of a lighthouse telling them that size, shape and color really didn’t matter. Her thought was that the students would take their pictures home, but to her surprise; one by one they started bring them to her. She’ll never forget when one little boy asked, "Will you put this on your refrigerator?" Needless to say it was Nancy who went home with the ‘treasures’

The Middle school presentation was more educational. Here she gave a history lesson of lighthouses and then read a story, followed by the showing of a video on Haunted Lighthouses. Later in the day, students who hadn’t seen the presentation came to ask if they could also view the video.

Year three brought more challenges for Nancy and her presentation grew larger with more backboards and display items. Nancy’s grandson’s third grade class had just finished learning about Colonial times, so Nancy included photos and information on the Colonial Lights. This time she spoke to an entire pod, which consisted of four classes with about 100 students. She handed out activity handouts that she gave them to take back to their classes.

Year four brought invitations to both schools again. By now, Nancy had purchased the "total trolley" to carry all of her displays and display items. At the elementary school she was allowed to set up in the media center, which allowed for more interaction with the students. She spoke to four different groups that day - grades 2 to 5. And she had a small group of TMH children (trainable mentally handicapped).

Nancy’s granddaughter’s third grade class had been studying navigation and Japan. So, Nancy added a display about Japanese lighthouses.

Nancy spent the second day at the Middle school speaking to about 100 students in grades 6 to 8. This time she added lighthouses of India to go along with their studies. Later she spoke about lights in Michigan and Florida.

While showing replicas of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse one student raised her hand and told how she had visited the famous lighthouse during its historic move. Nancy told the class that the student had witnessed history that she will always remember. When talking about Michigan Lights one of the teachers recounted her visit to Whitefish Point Lighthouse. This type of interaction made her presentations even more enlightening to the students.

Nancy says that although each year she has taught, each year she has also learned. She tries to leave the students with an appreciation of lighthouses and the need to respect them and their history and the importance of saving and maintaining them. Older students get a handout of Elinor DeWire’s "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from a Lighthouse".

Nancy says she feels honored to share her love of lighthouses with the students and will continue to keep spreading the word. And, if the schools invite her back, we wonder how large her display and program will grow for the next school year.

Nancy McDougall is to be congratulated for her unselfish efforts; she is one of the people who are making a difference. We are honored to present Nancy McDougall with this months Lighthouse Digest "Beacon of the Light" award.

Do you know someone who is making a difference with lighthouses? If so, send us their story and some photos. We may pick them for the next Lighthouse Digest "Beacon of Light’ award.

This story appeared in the April 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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