By Jackie Contreras
BU News Service
If Kevin Dua doesn’t run the 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon in under five hours, he’ll owe his students ice cream and extra credit on their midterm.
To do that, the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School history and psychology teacher will have to shave around 20 minutes off of his last marathon time.
Though Dua has run several races in the past nine years, Monday’s Boston Marathon will be his third marathon.
Dua will be running as part of Hyland’s all-teacher team. The team consists of 17 teachers who have shown innovation and creativity in the classroom. This past summer, he earned the Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year award and was one of 10 finalists for the national award.
Though it is only Dua’s first year at CRLS, he has made notable connections with his students. Just two weeks after teaching, some of his students wanted to bring back the school’s Black Student Union, which was not in operation the year prior, and asked him to be the advisor.
He gladly took the position and has since had success with the group.
“This sense of always being connected with students in a way that helps with engagement and better identity to help individuals, they’re all one in the same,” he said.
Student engagement and student voice is a value that Dua respects. He always encourages his students to think critically and be proud of their identity, he said.
Whether it’s a bet or doing push ups with students, Dua has made it a point to include his students in his journey to the marathon. He conveys a lot about preparation, setting goals and self care in the classroom.
Dua said he believes that the encouragement that he and his students share with each other helps him push forward. The energy that he brings to class and that his students reciprocate has created a supportive relationship among them, he said.
“I think the energy that I’ve been feeding off the students and vice versa has made squeezing in miles for runs bearable,” he said.
Although he says his students think he is “wild” for running the marathon at what they consider an old age, they are proud of his ambitions and recognize it as an accomplishment worth celebrating.
For Dua, running the marathon is a way for him to highlight the awareness of what a black educator does in a classroom, the pride he feels over his students’ work and how individuals invest their time to promote celebration towards someone’s identity in or out of the classroom.
“Highlighting how representation matters is huge,” he said. “It’s showing how educators wear so many hats trying to balance our lives and careers so we’re able to help others and have fun at the same time.”
Dua is running for black educators, his students and his wife.
He credits his wife for playing a significant role in helping him understand self care, whether it be eating or mental health, and said he owes a lot of his well being to her.
Dua said he is also running because he would love to run the marathon in under five hours. This marathon does not compare to other races he has ran in terms of support, he said.
“Boston’s the only [race] where you have spectators across the entire 26.2 route who are energized, not just for the elite, but for someone who is running their first marathon,” he said. “It’s hard not to appreciate that rare sense of a community.”
Dua said he cannot wait to finish the marathon and have time to binge watch “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Stranger Things” and finally be able to eat Fruity Pebbles and gummy bears, his favorite cheat snacks.
After a quick break, he will continue training for the Boston Run to Remember half marathon in May.
Dua says he will continue to incorporate the values he has implemented for the marathon in his classroom, whether that be organizing a charity race or encouraging other educators to sign up for a race together.
“I think there’s a lot of value in encouraging some type of fitness and values of training and dedication into what we do in this building,” he said.