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Daurer dives in


It’s May, and despite the spring weather, the water is freezing. In the murky depths, visibility is only about five feet, and all Angie Daurer can see ahead of her is the cloudy blur of lake water. Later, when she emerges from this arctic lake in South Beloit, she’ll have earned her scuba diving certification. The dark bruises from bending her elbows in a thick, 10 millimeter wetsuit meant to keep out the cold are proof of this. After classroom learning, pool practice dives, and this lake experience, she was ready to take on a whole new level of diving.

Photos courtesy of A. Daurer.
Photos courtesy of A. Daurer.

This would be her first and only dive into a lake. From that point on, she would utilize her new certification from Crystal Lake’s Sea Level Diving course to explore the wonders of tropical diving.

Rewind to Daurer’s childhood, however, and you’d find a small-town girl originally unsure if she would even go to college, let alone become a certified scuba diver. Daurer grew up in Batavia, and spent her teenage years as a proud Batavia Bulldogs fan at Batavia High School.

“I had a great experience in high school; I loved it,” said Daurer. “We used to go to every single football game, home and away. There was a pep bus, we’d pay our dollar and ride the pep bus to the away football games, and we’d go to the away basketball games and had a great time.”

In addition to supporting her school in the Raider Nation-esque “Dog Pound,” Daurer herself was an athlete, and played basketball and softball. Her most influential activity, though, was getting involved in Operation Snowball.

“It’s drug and alcohol prevention and leadership training,” said Daurer. “It may have been one of those life-changing organizations where I was, my freshman year, kind of getting into some trouble, and then my counselor actually told me, ‘Hey, there’s this camp, and it’s free, and I’d like to nominate you to go.’”

For the Operation Snowball camp, Daurer headed out to Lorado Taft Field Campus in Oregon, Ill., where she met a variety of funny and interesting people, and where drugs and alcohol were nonexistent. After returning from the camp, she migrated to a new group of friends who would change her life forever.

“Honestly, I believe that by getting involved with Snowball and changing my group of friends in high school… They all had parents who had been to college, and so it kind of became the expectation that I would go to college. I think that if I had left it up to just my family, I’m not sure I would have made it there,” said Daurer.

Daurer explored colleges in the area by tagging along with her friends on their visits, and tackled the college application process all on her own. Since email was nonexistent and owning a computer was rare, the entire application process was done on paper.

Daurer would head to the guidance counselor’s office at her school and sift through drawers and drawers of scholarship applications, selecting any that she might vaguely qualify for. At home, she’d spread the plethora of papers out on her dining table, and then slowly type out each and every essay on her electric typewriter.

Though her dream school was Illinois Wesleyan University, the cost was too much, and Daurer ended up deciding on Northern Illinois University, where she was awarded a full tuition scholarship for her freshman year. She also managed to cover the cost of her room and board with several additional smaller scholarships.

Once her college destination was set, Daurer decided that she wanted to pursue a career in special education. Just for the fun of it, she also decided to take a sign language class, and was surprised to find out that signing came easy to her. At the urging of her sign language teacher, she decided to go into deaf education.

Daurer graduated with a bachelor’s degree in special education with an emphasis on deaf education, and taught mostly second and third grade deaf students for almost 15 years.

“My classroom was kind of a small classroom, and I would only have somewhere between four and twelve kids in my class at once, and taught reading, science, math, everything, had recess duty and bus duty, and all that stuff,” said Daurer.

One December, however, Daurer was looking at her class list for the next school year and found out that she wouldn’t have any students to teach- there weren’t any deaf students registered for that year. Panic set in as she realized she would be out of a job.

Her frazzled mind immediately leapt to becoming a nurse, but thanks to some calming and rational advice from her husband, she decided to stick with a career in education. At the urging of a friend, she looked into taking on an administrative role, but decided she didn’t want a career with that much conflict. After looking into NIU’s counseling program, she decided that it was a perfect fit for her.

“I was like, ‘That’s it, that’s what I want to do.’ The classes sounded so interesting to me,” said Daurer. “This is where I should have been years ago. I loved teaching, but I believe I’m a much better counselor. I think that it was where I was meant to be.”

Now, Daurer spends her busy school days making arrangements for upcoming AP testing, making schedule changes, and meeting with students and parents. Despite her full workload, she always wishes she could do more, like meet with each and every one of her juniors before the ACT to discuss what colleges they should send their scores to. According to Daurer, next year’s increased number of counselors and smaller caseloads may allow her to achieve that goal.

Despite her busy schedule, Daurer still finds time to spend with her family. Her son Jack is currently a freshman in the Genoa school system, and she spends many afternoons watching his baseball games. She’s been married to her husband Jeff since 1992, and the family also has a puppy named Casey.

Daurer met Jeff at NIU, where they both happened to be resident assistants in Grant Towers. They started talking in August of 1990, were engaged the next June, and married the following May. Both lived in dorms their undergraduate four years, then for two more years as Jeff worked on his graduate degree, and then for even longer after Jeff was hired as a full time hall director for a set of the residence halls. In all, Daurer and her husband lived in the residence halls at NIU for 11 years. Since the couple didn’t have to pay room and board, they found that they had extra income to embark on their own adventures.

After graduating, some of their friends invited them to go on a trip to Hawaii. Since their friends would be scuba diving and Daurer and her husband were strong swimmers (she’d been a lifeguard in high school), they decided to get diving certified as well. That was the trip that started it all.

Daurer and her family have since ventured to a variety of locales including St. Thomas, Mexico, Belize, Cozumel, and Little Cayman. Jack got his scuba diving certification through Boy Scouts, and had a passport by age 11, so the family often spends time together exploring the world beneath the waves.

“I love it because it is so colorful and peaceful,” said Daurer. “The first time we ever went diving, I put my mask on and I put my face in the water and I was like, ‘It’s a fish tank!’ There’s blue and orange and yellow and all of these cool fish right there in knee-deep water.”
Daurer’s favorite trip was when they went to Little Cayman, where sloping white sand beaches lead the way to an underwater flurry of excitement, which makes for amazing diving. Turtles, reef sharks, eels, and colorful fish are everywhere. However, with the beauty comes an element of danger. Where Daurer dove, the sand quickly gave way to a 6,000 foot deep drop-off. Common sense and constant awareness are key for a successful dive.

When Daurer isn’t with her family, she also loves to spend time with her work friends.

“I think that for me, one of the best things is that I have been so, so fortunate that in every place I have worked, I have loved the people that I’ve worked with,” said Daurer.
From running marathons with fellow Huntley staff to Wisconsin weekend trips with her former deaf education colleagues, Daurer loves spending time with her strong, supportive friend group. Even at lunchtime, Daurer has a policy to avoid talking about work with her coworkers and instead focuses on what they’ve been up to. She values her connections with others, and believes it’s important and rewarding to not only have a job you can love, but an entire support group as well.

“I treasure my husband and my son, and I think that I am who I am because of my friends, because of my friends from high school who got me into college, my friends from college who made me become the kind of friend that I am now, and then my friends from work who I still see to this day,” said Daurer.

That person so molded by personal connections values the success of all students, not just high achievers. Some of Daurer’s proudest moments as a counselor have been when students who were close to giving up told her that her advice was the only reason they graduated. Every student that receives their diploma on graduation day has come full circle.

“I love seeing everyone, where everyone is going to end up and what they’re going to do and become contributing members of society in whatever capacity they’re going to do that.”

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Holly Baldacci, Author

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