What’s In Your Backpack?

Posted by on May 28, 2019 in Uncategorized | No Comments

By: Alicia Bailey, P.E.

An old motto that has echoed the hallways at Sain Associates for many years is “Learn, Earn, and Return”.  As school comes to an end and summer begins, we reflect on the “return” being invested into building a future of engineers.  With this, we would like to share a special story about a special teacher.

For the last several years, several Sain engineers have been visiting Ms. Taylor’s 3rd grade class at Inverness Elementary School.  As we walked the halls and entered the classroom, we were always greeted with big smiles, which immediately added cheer to our day.  The student’s chitter chatter was immediately calmed with Ms. Taylor saying either “CLASS CLASS” or “FLAT TIRE.”  (Flat tire consisted of all students taking a deep breath in and blowing it out to deflate like a flat tire.)

During our visits, we have shared anything from math tips, to engineering challenges on projects, and teamwork.  We performed hands-on experiments such as toothpick bridges and mixing cement.  The students were encouraged to use the engineering process to improve upon what they had built.

Ms. Taylor always helped make connections between their current course work and engineering.  This would lead to many questions from the students to us and us to them.  She would routinely say “I wonder what the engineers would think about this?” or “How would the engineers use this in their job?”  In being witnesses to how these students were being taught, we found that the basis of what is being learned in 3rd grade is also used in the daily work of engineering. 

At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, our first visits consisted of sharing “What’s in your Backpack?”  Everyone carries something with them on a daily basis, could be something physical such as a backpack or could be something inside you weighing down your soul.  Many may not know what is in your backpack unless you choose to take it out and share.  All of us, along with the students, shared what was in our backpacks.  On one such occasion, Jim Meads shared his backpack story of losing his mother at a young age.  Ms. Taylor quickly paired Jim with a student struggling with the recent loss of her parent.  Because of Jim’s willingness to share his backpack, he was able to inspire and show that if you work hard and apply yourself, dreams really could come true in spite of your circumstances. 

Departing the classroom, we would have an overwhelming great feeling knowing a special teacher is making a lasting impact not only in her students’ lives, but in others around her.  We frequently commented about what a great teacher she is and how she is one of those rare teachers who create such an experience that the memory of that particular school year stays with you for a lifetime.  We admire Ms. Taylor’s commitment to invest, encourage, and impact so many in a positive way. 

Thank you to Ms. Taylor for building a future of engineers and letting us share in “returning” engineering into our community.  We wish her the best on a happy retirement!

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