It was a few weeks ago when my mom mentioned that she had run in to an old high school teacher of mine after church one Sunday morning. The now-retired teacher instantly asked what I was up to and where I was living. I'm sure my mom and dad did the best they could in trying to describe what my job entails but I do know that no matter how muddled or not muddled the description was, this teacher whom I had through all four years of high school understood what I did for work and where I was at in my life.
My mom went on to tell me that this teacher said that I was his number one favorite student throughout his multiple decade career of teaching at that high school. That's huge to me that he remembered me -- after all, it's been fifteen years since I graduated. I went on to tell my mom that this teacher was my favorite teacher. Throughout those four years, he taught me countless skills which I use today on a daily basis. To put it into perspective, this teacher taught a variety of what could be considered industrial arts classes for categorizational purposes but in reality he taught technical classes such as drafting, electronics, engineering and even a graphic design class.
My favorite, though, had to be my senior year when he allowed me to take an independent study class. I was blown away that he trusted me enough to grade papers, install computer equipment, add to the computer network and generally fix things in his MacGyver-like classroom which needed attention.
I commented to my wife last weekend, as I was disassembling our behemoth of a television (a 34" Sony CRT [tube-style] HDTV) in preparation of replacing a couple ICs (integrated circuits) which essentially keep the television powered up until you choose to turn it off, that I only knew how to solder electronics because of that teacher my mom had mentioned a few weeks earlier. Let me remind you that the last time I had performed any soldering work was in that teacher's electronics class at what is now the barely-memorable age of 16 years old but I went ahead with the project at hand.
At first I stumbled a bit, having never used a vacuum-powered spring-loaded solder sucker (I used a de-soldering braid in high school) as I heated up each of the 32 legs of the chips which needed to be removed. I fretted about overheating the board or damaging the solder pads but within far too long of time I had the chips fully removed and forged ahead with installing the new chips and was amazed at how quickly I was able to solder in new sockets which would hold the new integrated circuits.
After I ate supper, the big moment arrived. I plugged the television in and pushed the power button. It worked!
Had it not been for that one-semester-long class in electronics when I was 15 or 16 years old, I probably would not have been confident enough to work on this television which weighs in at over 200 lbs. and cost us over $1,500 when we purchased it eight years ago. No television of that quality or age deserves to be thrown to the curb when $22 in parts will bring it back to life. And through all of that, I have this wonderful high school teacher to thank for so much of what I have the confidence and ability to tackle even when that voice in my head is telling me that I'm crazy for even thinking about this task.
Thank You Mr. Lynch. Without those parts of four years spent in your weird but wonderful classroom in the high school annex I wouldn't be able to do many of the tasks which I do on my own. I like to think that the skills I learned in that classroom also gave me the confidence to work far, far outside the confines of my job description in my work life, too. I like a challenge and I like variety when it comes to my jobs and thanks to Mr. Lynch I have that drive to keep learning. With any luck, those years of learning will pan out into an amazing career opportunity in the very near future.