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Feature Teacher: Dr. Dan “Doc” Hatch

Feature Teacher
Submitted by 
Cristina Irwin
It happens every once in a while, that we cross paths with someone our souls recognize as a friend. If you have ever had the opportunity to have a chat with Dr. Dan “Doc” Hatch, you know the feeling. A warm demeanor, friendly hand shake, and a quick lesson about Mother Nature are essential parts of a Doc Hatch greeting, and Licking R-VIII School District regularly celebrates our good fortune in having Doc as our staff member and friend, 44 years and going strong.
Dr. Hatch began his teaching career in Licking in the fall of 1976. Over the course of his tenure, Dr. Hatch has instructed future teachers, attorneys, school administrators, and countless former students entering science-related fields. Adults return to Licking R-VIII School District often, sharing that Dr. Hatch made a tremendous impact on them. Dr. Hatch says he hopes he is just one of many factors influencing students’ return and is humbled by the comments. When asked about his connection with students year after year, Dr. Hatch responds, “Kids want to be encouraged to learn. They want to absorb stuff they can actually use.” And encouraging students to learn is exactly what Dr. Hatch has done over these 44 years. When reflecting on what has changed in education over 44 years, Dr. Hatch recognizes that on a large scale, schools have become more safety conscious, and on a personal level, his own classroom discipline has softened. Dr. Hatch is known for his love for our area rich in natural resources, wildlife, outdoor recreation, and sharing the importance of protecting our environment. This passion for environmental factors has influenced hundreds of students to enroll in Dr. Hatch’s courses and become engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics pathways.
When asked about his decision to delay retirement beyond what many educators would consider, Dr. Hatch says, “this is a career choice I enjoy. Working with kids themselves is not work…the paperwork and business side is work…but I am still excited about working with self-motivated and brilliant students who want what I have to offer. I take the basics, maybe two to three facts per hour, entertain comments from students, and allow the course of instruction to take over. For example, if I introduce carbohydrates and monosaccharides, students may ask, ‘How is fructose bad?’. Our research is driven by those questions, and I learn from my students every day.” Dr. Hatch thanks the school board for continuing to allow students to leave campus and use district transportation. He hopes for continued awareness about what nature offers and how our world is valuable and worth protecting. Dr. Hatch hopes by sharing this with students, they will share with their own families, and our future will be protected.
Dr. Hatch writes, “Inspiring academic events happen regularly in our classes. It’s those small daily ‘spurts’ of inspiration that really keep us all motivated. However, sometimes something big shoots us forward. One of those events occurred in 1997 when Tracy Dement decided to build a science fair project around cattle and stream health. Using her training with The Missouri Stream Team and equipment from Missouri Department of Conservation, she monitored water quality of a spring-fed stream as it flowed through forested areas and a cattle pasture. After winning first place in our local fair, her impressive work was taken to the Missouri State Fair for another first place, then on to the National FFA convention where it took second place in the nation. She was awarded a $750 scholarship by Ford Motor Company and a summary of her work was published in the August 1998 issue of Today’s Farmer. Events such as this have inspired other students to work with water quality monitoring projects, and to produce quality data in those projects.”
There is, indeed, mounting evidence that Dr. Hatch has a direct impact on the Licking community. As coworkers, we are inspired by Doc’s passion, and thankful that our children continue to be influenced by him. For these reasons and many others, we are honored to submit Dr. Hatch as our Teacher Highlight this month.


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