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About The Teacher
After a parochial elementary education in Wilmington, CA, I was processed through two LA Unified schools- Stephen M. White Junior High, and Carson High School, both in Carson, CA. These were the days when something called "Vocational Education" still existed, and I am a product of that education. Having never intended to go to college, I joined the United States Marines, and was regularly sent on special ocean cruises and all expenses paid excursions to exotic Asian islands, as well as other ports of call in the Mediterranean Sea, not to mention lonely places in the continental US.
It was all a most humbling experience, rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty as well as lesser mortals, and afterwards I dragged myself off to the university for a degree in Religion (capital R) at what is now known as Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA. As part of the degree process, two summers were spent in the Middle East doing archaeological fieldwork at the city of Dan, in Israel, just below the minefields and prickly wire of the Golan. A most fascinating time and place, full of conundrums and fubars. You have not seen dark until you have traversed Hezikiah's Tunnel. You should go sometime.
The next three years were spent working for the university in plant operations, and then came a year in the oasis hamlet of Landers, CA. My wife and I spent our time in a one room homestead place sans electricity and running water, and made a pretty fine life for ourselves listening to the wind and operating on propane and firewood. When you're young you can pull off these kinds of things and think you're having a blast.
The next ten years or so were spent in Torrance owning and operating my own contracting business until I got tired of just chasing money and started looking for something meaningful to do. Having taught in various capacities over the years, I began the State of California credentialling process, and taught meanwhile as a substitute teacher for TUSD. One thing led to another the way it usually does, and in the fall of 1999 I came on at Richardson Middle School, and have been here since. They say in the research literature on teaching that it takes four to six years to make a competent teacher, so as of this writing (December of 2003) I consider myself almost competent.
So what do I have to offer the teaching profession and to students in general? Mostly, I think, it has to do with outlook, or perspective. I began teaching at the age of 42, and before that have had a broad and varied set of experiences, from jumping out of flying helicopters to digging up ancient civilizations to the raw experience of living with next to nothing in the middle of the desert. I am not average. Neither am I a better or more talented teacher than the other outstanding and immensely dedicated teachers at our little school. I am merely different, like everyone else, and my different perspective on life and education offers your student one more perspective they might not get from the other teachers or staff here or from you.
If I can inspire a student to learn how to learn, or create the motivation to learn how to learn, I will have done my job, because by then they will not need me. Or any other teacher for that matter. If they can direct themselves and their lives and decide and motivate themselves in whatever they do, they can then do anything under any circumstance.
How this all happens is sometimes a mystery to me, and sometimes it doesn't happen, but it takes place in the context of our classroom with all the projects and materials and the tools and computers and other stuff. Stop by for a visit sometime. You are always welcome.
An Update: In May of 2008 I completed a masters degree in Technology-Based Education from California State University, Dominguez Hills. It was one of those programs where you actually design stuff, create stuff, build stuff, modify stuff, and write stuff applicable to the classroom (unlike some programs where you submit a few scribbles online and get your parchment shipped back Fedx) that has actual utility for both me and the students. I'm still in recovery.
Update Dos: June of 2009 found me at NASA Educators Space Academy on the grounds of the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, the result of winning a much-coveted slot sponsored by the Honeywell employee charitable foundation, Hometown Solutions. I was one of a group of eighty five educators from a pool of eight hundred fifty from across the world chosen to learn about the practical application of science and math from an empirical, practical, hands- on perspective. The week-long training regimen started early and ended late, and stuffed our heads with great strategies to get kids to remember how to color outside the lines and learn about engineering by building and creating with both the way-high-tech as well as junk from a drawer, and most importantly, remembering to think bigger than big.
And Etc.-- In February of 2011 came the official news of passing the multiple CSET exams that earned an endorsment on my original teaching credential (in vocational education) to teach Secondary Fine Art, which for me is expressed in the teaching of ceramics, working with wood, and in metal sculpture.
Back to the Future: So what comes next after the last launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis? In June of 2011 Honeywell sent me to the Advanced Educator Space Academy at the Marshall Spaceflight Center near Huntsville Alabama, and to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to find out. Got inside the fence of Pad 39A to see STS 135 prepare for its final go, as well as tour the monstrous Vehicle Assembly Building, and see both Endeavour and Discovery being prepped for their museum tour. What comes next will play out in the classrooms across the nation as educators train the next generation in math and science, in engineering skills that will provide for our nation's future. See you there!
More future: On August 7th, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory above Pasadena was awash with media trucks and pretty people gushing in front of cameras about NASA and JPL gently setting the insanely complex Curiosity on the dusty rubble of Mars. JPL is about as high on the engineering food chain as you can go, and I was honored to be part of a crew of teachers doing professional development for a week practicing more hands-on stuff with math, science, and engineering to prepare the next generation that will take the place of those in the control-room seats, the test shops and spacecraft fabrication labs, maybe on the space station or the moon itself. Maybe it'll be your kid....
Classroom: 533-4790 X8927
To train young people in the technical arts and provoke an interest in math, science, and engineering
Relentless inquiry into All Things Interesting
Make Progress Every Day