Captain’s Corner – Educational Involvement

Last week my parents visited from upstate New York for a break from the cold. Both are in their late 80s and I feel fortunate to still have them in my life. We mostly just sat around drinking coffee or cocktails, telling stories. Listening to their stories of me and my eight siblings’ youth always makes me feel blessed.
One story I would like to share is the united front they had on the value of education. Both were teachers. My mom ran the nursing programs at two vocational schools, and my dad taught Organic Chemistry at St. Bonaventure University. I remember our kitchen walls being decorated like a classroom with a large world map, a colorful periodic table and numerous famous poems. We grew up asking to please pass the H2O and NaCl and being quizzed on countries of the world. But even more important than that was the active role they played in our academic classes. They knew and sought out the good-tough-challenging teachers and made sure that we landed in their classes. As much as I wanted to coast, there was no way I could hoodwink them into letting me take the “Easy A” class. They would rather I get a 70 and learn something than to not be challenged and land a superior grade. At this stage of life, I thank them for their dedication to education as it has paid huge dividends to me and my brothers and sisters.


The need to educate and train the next generation of workers is a priority for us all. If you made it out to hear Robert Kaplan of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas talk at our February Commerce Club, you know he repeatedly stressed workforce education as his most significant factor to economic growth and prosperity in the U.S. (You can find a recap on page 20.) It’s a topic on everyone’s mind, and I believe a high level of involvement from the business community can make a difference for successful outcomes. Many companies and organizations have established scholarships and educational grants, and that is critically important. However, it is really step 1. Step 2 is to be a part of process. Just as my parents presented their instructional objectives for us to the school, it is up to industry to provide educators with detailed data for our workforce’s education needs.
The Port of Houston Partners in Maritime Education (PIPME) recently hosted their “Preparing the Next Generation of Maritime Leaders” symposium. Events like this supply educators with the insight needed from industry leaders to effectively educate and train students. Another event planned for the spring, is the PIPME Youth Expo on april 28. Opportunities like the youth expo offer an excellent venue for upping your involvement in education. I think there is a Step 3 here, also. Our involvement should offer a personal challenge to students as well. Confidence is gained when hurdles are jumped and obstacles are conquered. My parents wanted us to understand that subjects such as the periodic table could be mastered, and for us to see the amazing magic that occurs when substances separate, combine, and interact with one another. Gaining knowledge of the elements was not something to run away from because of their difficulties, but was rather part of a bright future they wanted us to run toward. Our port region has a chemistry like no other to make things happen and interaction from all the elements of the industry with our educational partners is the formula for success. Let’s continue to promote good education!

  • Date March 14, 2017
  • Tags March 2017