IN MEMORY OF DOUG LANGSTON

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Doug Langston was a mentor to teenagers for nearly 50 years. As a lifelong high school history teacher and football coach, he spent his career guiding younger generations in Shelbyville, Tenn., and at Battle Ground Academy (BGA) in Franklin. Last year—he’s been retired since 2009—Doug saw an ad in the paper and decided to build on this legacy by volunteering for Williamson County CASA, in the community he’s served since 1974.

“I didn’t know anything about it but I thought it may be a natural gravitation to working with young people again, in a different capacity,” Doug says. “What I found out is that you have a group of young people that need help. And unless you have CASA, they get swept under the rug.”

Though he spent the majority of his professional life as an educator, Doug stepped into an administrative role in the last years of his career at BGA. As the school’s interim dean of students, he served as a central part of its development at the time and created an advanced placement Government course.

“A major part of my life has been making sure I do what’s right for the individual person,” he says. “I had wonderful opportunities and experiences working with younger people, trying to get them to achieve the best they could.”

And Doug found success outside of the classroom, too: as an offensive line and outside linebacker coach, he helped lead the BGA team to multiple state championships, including five between 1995 and 2002. He continues to wear one of those winning rings 10 years later, a mark of something bigger and a small indicative of his intense dedication to everything he commits to.

“We had won a few before this championship. The players said, ‘Coach, if we win the ring are you going to wear it?’” he says. “I said yes, so I do. It’s a symbol of what they accomplished and I’m happy to share it.

“I’m going to tell you the Langston theory: you can’t be a good coach if you’re not a good teacher or if you don’t enjoy it. Those two always ran parallel for me.”

Doug applies that theory in his community work, too. In addition to his career, Doug’s extensive background in public service makes him a uniquely qualified CASA advocate. He served on the City of Franklin’s board of alderman for 13 years, and was the chairman of the Franklin Transit Authority (FTA) when it opened its new center in 2007. He’s represented the 12th district as a Williamson County commissioner since 2004, and his family has been active in the community as long as he has.

“I’ve always enjoyed the idea of being involved and contributing. This [CASA] is a natural progression of what I’ve done,” he says. “This is something I can do throughout my life.”

Doug is currently working through his first CASA case, using his decades of educational and administrative experience to help a child in need.

“With CASA, it’s not just volunteering your time. You investigate a problem and help bring about a resolution,” he says. “You’re working for solutions here, not just supporting the process.”

Doug says something he learned long ago has helped lead him in his efforts so far—and that’s deference for each human’s natural dignity.

“You must respect people as they are, not who you think they should be,” he says. “Teaching has helped me with that.”

Doug draws a correlation between his approach to life and his experience thus far with the organization.

“As a jogger, when you run up a hill you don’t look to the very top of it. You look 15 yards in front of you, you reach that and pick another point,” he says. “That’s always been my approach to things. You set goals and then you reach them.”

NewsKat Caire