More Than Chemistry

Instructor striving to be more than just a teacher

More+Than+Chemistry

Alex Rea, Reporter

 Marcie Duley is more than a mother of three and more than a chemistry teacher. She’s a physician’s assistant’s wife. She’s also a dedicated cheerleader for her daughter’s volleyball team; granted, it’s from the bleachers. She’s a college mom to a college freshman and mother to both sophomore and freshman high school studentsShe’s a woman of God. And, to this school, she is a member of the Chisholm Trail family.  

 Duley has only been working at Chisholm for five years but is widely known across campus. This year, her official title is co-Student Council Sponsor. Every other year, though, she was unofficially the woman to go to for practically anything. She has planned and coordinated countless school functions, taken initiative to do impromptu food drives for soldiers, and decorates for various events and holidays. Her classroom is never empty, and neither is her schedule. 

 “They say that 20% of people do 80% of the work,” Duley said. Well, I’m proud to be part of that 20% that does 80% of that work. A small group of people can make [a] big change. You just have to be one of those people.” 

Duley at front of classroom

 Duley’s classroom is adorned with bright, vibrant colors. From lanterns and decorated ceiling tiles to chemistry-based memes and 10-year-old projects, this room is welcoming and busy. Displayed across the room are college t-shirts amongst strings of lights and paper pom-poms. Music plays in the background and each student is engaged. But that tends to bleed into her personal life as well. It’s difficult to find that balance between her job and her personal lifeDuley says she never quite mastered that. 

 “There is no separation,” Duley saidI never mastered the art of leaving my work at work and my home at home. So, it all overlaps in some ways. I [want to] be at everything…sometimes, it definitely over-laps and it’s not appreciated always at home. Sometimes I get the balance out of order. 

 Even soDuley says she is dedicated to her family and her passions. But this job wasn’t always what she wanted. She started out as a chemical engineering major and switched to biomedical science later. She tried to work at Walgreens. She also attempted to sell pharmaceuticals, traveling around Texas. She says neither of these suited her. 

 “I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life,” Duley said of pharmaceutical sales. “This is not my talent; this is not my gift.”  

Duley helping student

 As a result, at 22 years old, she began substitute teaching, working at GAP in between. She says she absolutely loved substitute teaching. One group she was monitoring was an AP Chemistry class, who were studying Bronsted Acids & Bases, and they had absolutely no idea what they were doing. Being a science major, she began to write out examples on the board as she understood the subject. The more she taught, the more she realized what and who she wanted to be. 

 “And so, I just connected with kids,” Duley said. “It just seemed natural, it seemed easy. I thought I was pretty good at explaining things. And so, 23 years later, I am here. It was an accident, it was a fluke, and I can’t even imagine me doing anything else.” 

 She moved here nine years ago, first teaching at Haltom. When her son began going here as a freshman, there was a job opening for an AP Chemistry teacher. At first skeptical about teaching an advanced course, she fell in love with helping students to learn and to put in that extra effort. She says this helped her be closer to her family. 

 “Five years later, I’m still here,” Duley said. “It was the best decision I ever made was just being in the same place with my kids.” 

Duley teaching

 Duley, raised in a family of givers, was always taught to give “150%” of her effort into anything that was important to her. She says that you cannot complain about the way something is unless you’re doing something proactive to make it better.  

 “If I have to work here and my kids have to go here, I want it to be an awesome place, Duley said. And I have to find a way a way to do that. So, when the student council position became available, I said, ‘Well that’s a way I can make it a better place: by helping student council reinvent itself and do some different things.'” 

 Duley walks around the classroom with a headset on, connected to the speakers, to ensure that the students can hear her. She spends hours decorating her room, the halls and more. The popcorn elemental science joke at the entrance to her room, the posters adorning the hall beside her room, all took hours. On top of that, as one of the StuCo sponsors, she helped lead the students to decorate the halls for Homecoming.  

 Although, COVID did give us all setbacks, it hiDuley hard. 

 The entire population of Chisholm Trail went home over Spring Break, probably expecting to come back, or at least Duley was. And, when they didn’t, it seemed as though this was just a minor detail. Two weeks turned into four, then a month and a half and after a while, school seemed like it would never open again. But Duley and the other teachers had to act because the students still needed to learn. So, she had to figure out how to use all these applications correctly and to their fullest extent. They weren’t exactly briefed on a pandemic and wondered who to turn to.  

Duley helps student

 “Very quickly, I had to look in the mirror and say, ‘Nobody’s going to do any of that for me,'” Duley said “I have to do that for me. I have to find the best way to connect with kids online, I have to find out how to use canvas, I have to find out how to get them engaged when they don’t want to be doing what we’re doing.” 

 She took to her back porch to film labs trying to make school still worth watching, worth engaging. She wanted the students to log on and see that this was not busy work, this was actual authentic instruction. 

 “I just want to try and find ways to inspire kids to have big dreams,” Duley said. “Go and try something because the worst thing that’s going to happen is, you’ll mess up. And you’ll learn from that mistake and you’ll try it again. Your life is about the journey, it’s not about the final destination. It’s about all of the experiences along the way of that journey.” 

 Even now, she said she attempts that authentic teaching in everything she does as an instructor. Her dream is to be more than a teacher. 

“I just, I love what I do,” Duley said. “And I hope that when my kids watch me teach and watch me interact and just get to know me on a personal level, I hope they see that this is not about chemistry. This is not about chemistry; this is about people.”