I started with Virginia Beach City Public Schools in 1992 as the director of vocational education. One of the most inspiring comments I had from a student was an apprentice I hired to run some ducting and air conditioning system into a house I built. He was a graduate and I remember saying to him, “This is some of the finest work I’ve ever seen. I’m just amazed.” He said, “Well, my teacher taught me that my work is my signature. That’s what I’m presenting to you today.” Still to this day, it works magnificently!
You want people who have that same type of forethought that their work is their signature. Whether it’s a teacher, a principal, a director, a superintendent or an electrician, a carpenter, an auto mechanic, a nurse, a doctor, it doesn’t matter. If we can instill that in people, we’re going to be a better country; we’re going to be a better city.
We’ve been able to break down barriers. You tell me that a high school student can’t do this. That’s what floats our boat, when we can get something a high school student can do and can get a credential; can work with a robot; can build unimaginable things that we had no idea that a high school mind could do. You just turn them loose on 3D printers and different things, and now we’re cascading that line of thought down. We didn’t think elementary kids could blossom on a 3D printer. Well, guess what? They are. So those are some lessons we’ve learned over time that feed the minds and brains of these kids who want to succeed. Male, female, ethnicity ̶ doesn’t matter. We say: Let’s create the future. That’s what we’re trying to do.