Douglas Porter Interview
From: Douglas Porter (dp) Medium: Video recording Date: May 13, 2011 Place: 750 W. 26th St. Marion, IN 46953 Collected by: Olivia Ott (oo)
oo: All right, please state your name and address.
dp: My name is Doug Porter. Address seven hundred fifty west 26th street Marion, Indiana 46953
oo: Do I have permission to video record this interview?
dp: You have permission.
oo: All right, so what years did you attend MHS?
dp: I started attending Marion High School in the fall of 1986 and I graduated in 1990.
oo: All right, where were you living at that time?
dp: I’ve lived in Marion my entire life. I grew up in south Marion and, uh, lived there until I got married and we were relocated to north Marion so I’ve lived in Marion my entire life.
oo: All right, so describe your family like your brothers and sisters and parents.
dp: My parents, Terry and Betty Porter, both recently retired professors now at Indiana Wesleyan University. My sister, Deb Porter Wertly, also graduated from Marion High School in 1993 and that’s the only sibling I have. I have, I currently have a wife, Kismet Porter. She’s a music teacher in the Marion Community School system and one son and three daughters, Nathaniel, Sabrina, Maria, and Sophia and they are all in elementary or in intermediate junior high school.
oo: All right, now do you remember your classes or teachers, any experiences with them?
dp: We are fortunate to have a wide range of classes available at Marion High School, not only my core classes, but also my elected classes and teachers that really influenced me in becoming, umm, a teacher today and probably a couple of my most influential teachers, uh, number one, uh, Richie Walton who has just passed away but who is the Walton center is named currently after him here at the high school but he was my music theory teacher and, uh, I took music theory. I needed fine arts credit for the, uh, academic honors diploma. I was a horrible artist, could not do anything with art. I had no musical talent with any musical instrument, but I needed a fine arts credit so I took music theory. I had a little bit of experience playing the piano so I knew a little bit of what was going on, but that class was so amazing. Mr. Walton was such a dynamic teacher and, um, a lot of the kids in the, in the class were members of the 26th street singers. Um, you know some of them kind of took it more seriously than others. Some of them were just because Mr. Walton was their director. But um, I took it very seriously and learned a lot from Mr. Walton and still remember a lot of the things he taught in music theory today. Another teacher that was very influential to me was Doctor Ross, an English, English teacher. I had her for advanced placement English my junior and senior year and she challenged us. We read and wrote and read and wrote some more. And we pretty much read a novel every six weeks and had some great discussions. And, um, she was very influential in my moral character as well and we had a lot of discussions in class about morality and the proper decisions you should be making and leading students. It’s where I really learned to become a really good writer. In fact, when I went to college I remember my freshman, uh, English professor told me I needed to pretty much loosen up my writing style because Doctor Ross had taught me so well the basis of writing that, um, I was really well prepared. Uh, another influential teacher I had was Mr. Tippy for Chemistry. And, um, he was always, always interjecting, uh, life lessons into what he was teaching. And you know so, those three teachers, none of which were math teachers which is what I have gone into. But, I have also had some excellent math teachers, some excellent math courses and, you know, was totally prepared from Marion High School, um, before I went to college. Back then, we didn’t go through what we go through today. We offer great courses to get you prepared, more than any other school around here and also the teachers are wonderful. And, um, so Marion High School was, was a great place for my academic. And then also you know in the social environment, um, belonging, belonging to College Wesleyan Church and JC Bodyshop Youth Group at the time. Uh, some of the, some of the Bodyshop students came to Marion High School and so we really formed a neat group of student that could support each other and we met once a week for devotions as a youth group and others that wanted to join. And so that was, that was strong in a public school to still have that, that faith group around you and to help you make decisions and everything like that. And so, but then beyond that a lot of, a lot of a, um, a lot of the friends I had, a circle of friends, did not go to JC Bodyshop but we were yet able to have a strong friendship and, uh, that circle was probably very important to me too and a lot of that competition with extracurricular activities and, uh, between sports and clubs and, uh, what was called, we don’t have it any more, but what was called Project Up. Project Up was the gifted and talented program and you were expected to do additional research beyond, um, the classroom and it wasn’t even for a grade. It was kind of expected that you would do that and, you know, students would want to do that. They wanted to do above and beyond and they had teachers to help them to, to go beyond their experiences in the classroom, to learn more and to experiment more. And then we did things as a group. Project Up, we did things as a group outside of the classroom. We would go on field trips to go see a play or a show or something like that. And, um, you know it seems like life was a little, was a little bit simpler back then than it is now. There weren’t so many things competing for our time. Um, we, we could do more things like that, that involved school. Um, I will always value those memories that we had.
oo: So speaking of things that like took up a lot of time, I know that you were on the tennis team. Did you guys have a lot of victories?
dp: Our tennis team was very successful back in the late 80s and through 1990. We, um, were state runner up, my junior year, lost to North Central in the State Finals. Two other times we’ve advanced to Semi State rounds, so I had a great career, uh, in tennis. I pretty much played every position from number one singles to number two doubles throughout that time. And, my last two years, uh, my individual record was 51 and 4 in my last two years. So tennis is very important to me. I mean, we had a great, great coach and a good group of guy. And, the tradition for Marion boys’ tennis was really strong and they had a good year in tennis, great four, great four years in tennis. And, um, Mu Alpha Theta, the mathematics honor society, that was my project. I spoke earlier of Project Up, Mu Alpha Theta was my project my senior year and I started the chapter here at Marion High School. And, um, I don’t remember how many students were involved that, that first year, but Mu Alpha Theta has since existed since that, that first year in 1989-90. And, um, some of the things that we did that first year have carried on to today and I’m proud. I don’t know how many years I’ve been sponsoring that about 8 or 9 years coming back to Marion and being a sponsor for Mu Alpha Theta. So, starting that organization was important to me back when I was in Project Up.
oo: That’s cool. So, what was your greatest difficulty at MHS?
dp: Um, probably two, two difficulties and I wouldn’t want to call them difficulties. They were, they were challenges. They were no different than what students face today. One is balancing your time. Um, again, very involved in church events, very involved in athletics and organizations and, and then keeping your school work up. Um, I was fortunate enough to be Valedictorian of Marion. Um, I don’t believe I was the, uh, smartest student in my class. Um, I just happened to have the highest GPA at the end when it was done. But um, but keeping that balance was, was a challenge. Um, but I think that was a good thing. I think that when students are involved in a lot of activities, it, it keeps them focused and it keeps them disciplined and you create, you create patterns in your life that carry on through college. If you’re not organized in high school, it’s hard to flip the switch and be organized in college. So, um, high school taught me a lot of discipline. And another challenge that was, um, there for me in high school, me again being involved in, um, so, with different friends and you know we didn’t have a lot of the same beliefs. We didn’t always have the same, um, outlook on life and life’s choices and standards and, um, balancing those and, and um, being open to other ideas and we had some great discussions on, on issues. Um, we, one thing you know we did in Project Up, we had debates and they were formalized debates and we would pick a side and debate the issue. And, um, I owe a lot of that to Mr. Munn. Mr. Munn was, um, in charge of project up. And, so we were really able to expand our minds and, um, form friendships throughout everything that have stood through today.
oo: So, besides like sports and athletics, what did you do for fun?
dp: Um, you know pretty much everything I did involved either school or church. And, you know we didn’t have Facebook back then to spend an hour or two on every day. So, you know, um, we actually, um, got together, saw people. You know, those were our social events. That’s how we communicated. And, um, so pretty much school and church pretty much dominated my life. And, and then of course tennis in the off season playing indoor tennis. It was a year round sport for me.
oo: So, um, what did you do like after high school like which college did you attend?
dp: I attended Indiana Wesleyan University. And um, I played tennis there. I graduated in 1994 with a math education major. And um, since then I’ve been a mathematics teacher. Sixteen of the seventeen years I have taught have been at Marion High School.
oo: That’s cool. So, do you have one specific most memorable experience like one point? dp: Um, you know really anything that, anything that you can remember, being out of high school now for about 20 years, anything that you can remember from high school probably constitutes a, an experience that’s worth sharing. I know my freshman year, uh, in Project Up, well it was called Project Up biology, Project Up biology class. We had a teacher, uh, Fritz Shank, Fritz Shank. Coming in as a freshman to Marion High School, um, Mr. Shank was a teacher you feared but in a positive sort of way. You knew it was going to be a class that you were going to have to work your tail off to be successful in and it prepared you for, basically, the rest of your high school career in terms of study habits, uh, classroom, classroom time management. When we had to do a project for the class, we spent, I know my partner and I, we spent many, many hours outside of school coming in in the evenings, on the weekends for a chance to make yourself available to work on a project. Um, that class was also a class I learned one of my most important lessons of, of what would happen if you cheat. I had never, never really cheated before. We took a test one day and, um, it was one of those test where, a very challenging test, and one of the questions, it was fill in the blank question, if, um, if I had been given a multiple choice question for that question and if I had been given 100 answers for a multiple choice, I would have seen the answer and known it. But, for the life of me I could not come up with the right answer at that time and I, I knew it. I just could not come up with it. So, the bell rings and, uh, we are waiting in line to hand our test in and I, I really didn’t even do it on purpose, but I saw my, uh, neighbor’s paper. As he was waiting in line, I saw the answer and just it just clicked that that was the right answer. So I, I, I filled the answer in. And at the time, I didn’t feel a lot of guilt because I justified it like I knew the answer. You know, I knew the answer. It just did not come to me at the time. So we went down for lunch after that and I, I just had this feeling in my stomach, the pit of your stomach, that I had done the wrong thing. And I needed to make things right so I decided I’d go up and, um, during my lunch and talk to Mr. Shank and explain to him what I did. So I go up there just terrified because Mr. Shank, you, you didn’t want to be on his bad side. Um, he had high expectations for you. Um, and I called him out in to hall and told him exactly what I did and knowing he had lots of choices. He could’ve given me a, a tongue lashing at the time that everyone in upstairs building one would have heard. He could have, I knew he could have failed me for that test. Probably others things he could have done. Um, and so I told him the story and his first reaction, he kind of smirked, the Mr. Shank smirk. Um, he kind of chuckled and, uh, thanked me for being honest. All he did was count that one question wrong, ended up getting an A minus on the test still. I don’t know why I remember that, my grade, but again when you still remember experiences from twenty plus years ago, it, uh, there’s a reason for it. But, you know from that day on I, I never cheated again. Um, it’s not worth it. I don’t know. I don’t know how students can cheat and, uh, have a positive feeling about themselves after that. Um, there’s no justification for it and, um, I really, again, you develop patterns in your life with behavior that carry on through your whole life. You know, cheating in school I really think can lead to other things in life. Areas where you could, uh, cheat or fudge the truth a little bit. And you really, these are important years to establish your values and moral system. And, um, every decision, every action you make, there’s going to be a consequence for it, um, positive or negative. And so high school was a really important time for me to, um, develop my value system and my belief system and then, and then stick up for those. And not everyone around you is going to feel that way and, um, you have to be, um, solid with convictions and it is one thing to talk it, but then to be able to, to, um, live that out in your life is also challenging.
oo: All right, and then last question. What’s the biggest difference that you see from Marion High School when you went, when you graduated then like to nowadays like teaching?
dp: Um, biggest difference. Again, I said this earlier, there aren’t so many things back then competing for your time like there are now, um, again with the, with the technology, with the, with the video games, with Facebook, with cell phones. Um, you know we didn’t have those distractions. You know, we were, we were focused on school, we were focused on sports, we were focused on, um, church events. And, and back then it was tough to balance everything you know. Um, it was just I think it was a little easier to be committed back then. And again you have to remember that the group of friends that I hung around with in school, we were good students, so you know when I came to teach at Marion I saw a different side of Marion than I had seen as a student. Um, but you know I think basically teenagers today are like teenagers twenty years ago. There’s just more options for them. There’s more options competing for their time. It’s, um, athletics is one example, I mean, back when I played, you know, I played just one sport, tennis. Um, but we had a lot of students that played lots of sports and were committed to all of those. Um, but we didn’t have the pressure back then of, of, of summer, of summer sports now. I mean, with all of the traveling teams and all of the AAU teams and, you know, there’s no break in the summer for athletes. Um, there’s no break for coaches if you want to compete with, with the other schools. I mean, back then in the summer you were pretty much given the summer off, but you were, your coach trusted you to, to get in shape on your own. Do the things necessary to come back and be a better athlete next year. And, um, I don’t think students, or athletes, quite have that same self-discipline today which is maybe one reason why the programs are put into place, um, to monitor their athlete, make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Back then it was just an expectation and if you didn’t do it, then you weren’t going to have your same spot on the team next year. Our tennis team was a great example. I knew if I didn’t play if I didn’t keep working to get better, I’d lose my spot, um, so and then in terms of academics, um, kind of the same way. We, we all knew we had to be doing our best for, or there was competition but a friendly competition with, with our friends, keep up and do well. Um, and but, but we were kind of a family too. We supported each other, um, then we had our differences, we did. But, it seemed like when we had those differences, it would bring us closer together. (Bell rings) So, not, not a lot of differences I don’t think in the way teenagers are today than the way they were twenty years ago. I just think there are so many choices for me fighting for their attention. Um, really I think it’s harder to be a committed student, a committed athlete today than there was then because there are those choices so I commend those students that are able to do it, um, today. It, it’s tougher. It’s tougher. Um, but you know some of the pressures are the same. In terms, of choices you make on a daily basis and everything. It’s why it is important to have a, a good networking system not just a, a family, but a, a church and friends to help you get through some of those tough times when life gets tough.
oo: All right, thank you for your time.