My neighbor, a retired high school teacher, and I were out for a walk when I thanked him once again for the 40 years he had shaped young lives. "Frank, you never know if what you do is really working, if the kids are getting it," he said.
On many occasions when I've been with my friend in town, former students have stopped to chat. Most recently a man who looked to be in his mid-40s crossed the street to give my friend a hug. "Mr. Haggerty," he said. The hug said it all. Teachers are the stars in our universe.
Few professions earn hugs like that. When was the last time you hugged your attorney, stockbroker or plumber? OK, so you hugged your plumber.
A few weeks ago I attended a meeting in the wine country and it opened with a two-minute, beautifully executed documentary about six engineers. Each talked about the why of choosing engineering over medical school, carpentry or whatever. Each spoke of a curiosity about understanding how things worked or the need to build something. One dropped his medical studies to pursue a career, a very successful one in engineering. Another PhD works on computer systems that can reduce the time it takes a cancer researcher to run a simulation from a year to a day. That may not be a hug but it's a very satisfying feeling when a world-renowned cancer researcher reacts with a "Wow!" All six engineers agreed it was enormously satisfying to have what they do touch so many lives. Yes, these creators of technology are also the stars in our universe.
But engineers are teachers too, mentoring younger engineers and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering, helping young minds become the future creators of technology with products that will affect everyone on planet earth. Let me end on a personal note. I'd like to learn more about what you and your colleagues are doing in your community to get youngsters interested in what you do. Life is beautiful indeed.
When Frank isn't hugging teachers, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org