Trinity-Pawling Faculty Jim McDougal with Scott Draughon '06

As a history teacher, cross country coach, father, and mentor, Jim McDougal has guided an entire generation of students through Trinity-Pawling. Arriving in the fall of 1994, McDougal has explored a passion for civil rights and racial justice during his tenure; many students see his Race in Sports course as a landmark history elective. With dry humor and empathy, McDougal’s rich knowledge of American History has helped shape the Trinity-Pawling experience for countless students as they grow from learning boys to intellectually prepared young men.

McDougal explained how the idea for his Race in Sports class originated: “When Headmaster Taylor began teaching the American Experience course, I had just begun to show some 30 for 30 documentaries around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Some African American students came up to me afterward and wanted to talk more about ‘The U.’ We started to meet on Thursday evenings for an hour, stopping to discuss the racial images in the film. The students said, ‘Mr. McDougal, you need to make a class out of this.’ So, I began to use sports videos to have in-depth discussions about race, using sports as a way to get in.”

McDougal strives to keep these conversations going both in and out of his classroom. “The real question is, how do we contemplate the history of our country and what this means? Do we want to read the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech or do we take the challenge to really examine economic and social inequities?” he pondered. “To what extent we choose to think is up to the individual,” he said.

Since the nineties, McDougal has been supporting minority student groups on campus. “Most of what I do is try to help kids figure out Trinity-Pawling. With students from the city, this means how to live in Pawling — how to deal with higher expectations. How do you manage the complexity of code-switching? I’m just helping these students prepare for the world,” he said.

Recently, McDougal and students in his Race in Sports class welcomed Scott Draughon ’06 to campus for a discussion on social justice. Draughon is a police officer with the NYPD and spoke with the boys about his decision to join law enforcement, how he and his fellow officers make a difference, and the many challenges he faces as a police officer. Draughon emphasized the importance of communication and respect and challenged the students to get out of their comfort zones and embrace every opportunity to learn from people who have different interests and backgrounds.

Thank you, Officer Draughon, for sharing your experiences and insights with us, and for your bravery and service in the NYPD — and thank you, Jim, for your commitment to creating a supportive and engaging environment where boys can develop into confident young men.

by Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris