Surrounded by some of the greatest scientific discoveries in the world, a few of the region’s leaders in STEM-related careers showed their appreciation for who helped get them to where they are today – their science teachers.
“It’s unpredictable what path your children will end up on,” said Charlie Stegemoeller, Vice President of Program Management for Science Application International Corporation. “Teachers before you taught those astronauts that flew to the moon – what you’re doing is making a difference.”
Elementary and secondary teachers from the Clear Creek Independent School District gathered at Space Center Houston Oct. 17 for the inaugural Industry Ignite Night to celebrate the lifelong influence and impact science teachers can have on their students long into their careers. The evening was made possible through support from Space Center Houston and Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union.
Walter Pinto, site manager for LyondellBasell, shared how growing up in a small village, he and his classmates didn’t have access to a lot of resources, but he still remembers how his teachers would do everything they could to help teach he and his classmates about the wonders of science.
Now, at LyondellBasell, Pinto is part of an organization that is home to at least one former Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and is instrumental in making products that serve people in their everyday lives – starting with toothbrushes, houses, clothes and shoes, he said.
“In everything you do today, think about your students and their successes,” Pinto said. “New discoveries are made every day – you play a part in that.”
He also challenged teachers to have their students “think of the unthinkable” and “think of the impossible.”
“Young minds can think big,” Pinto said. “You’re a part of that.”
Minds like Hannah Szakacs, a Clear Horizons Early College High School graduate who thought she originally might go into interior design before finding her real passion in STEM. Today, she is a labor and delivery nurse at Houston Methodist St. John Hospital.
“What you do for students with science is what makes it tangible,” Szakacs said. “Because of you, we can always look toward a better future.”
A better future that students like Mallorie Mackay, a self-proclaimed lover of science and a sixth grader at League City Intermediate, hopes to be a part of.
“Science is fun when we have great teachers like you to teach us,” Mallorie said. “You are so appreciated.”
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