How Science and the SSEC Changed My Life
I never gave science much thought. I really didn’t need it in business—did I? Fast forward to late 1998, I was promoted to the Director of Community Relations at Michelin North America, Inc. One of the first persons to congratulate me was Mr. Tom Peters, ED of the SC Coalition for STEM. He invited me to a 4th grade classroom for a science lesson. I glazed over and had visions of dissecting a frog or worse. My second thought was, “How can I blow off this appointment?” I like and respect Tom, so off I went to meet him. As we walked into this classroom, I was shocked to see all of the desks and chairs had been moved to the side of the room and everyone was busy “doing” science on the floor. It was a motion and design activity, which I shortly joined in on. Keep in mind this was in the day of suits and ties, so off came the jacket and tie and I was actually enjoying science. And I was not alone. Every student in that 4th grade class was highly engaged. The rest is, as they say, history!
"Not only do I understand how important science is for our world, but it is so much more. Hands on, inquiry-based science teaches our students to think, not just memorize facts"
I have been actively engaged in transforming science education since that day. Not only do I understand how important science is for our world, but it is so much more. Hands on, inquiry-based science teaches our students to think, not just memorize fact (this may be why I loved history so much). Not to mention all of the soft skills that our students learn from this methodology: communication skills, teamwork, how to analyze data and information, and how to inquire into things that happen every day in all of our lives. Oh yes, we do need and use these skills in business!
Being part of the SSEC team over the last 16 years has helped me evolve as an individual and as an employee. In the various roles I have filled with the SSEC, each one has challenged me to learn (science content), helped me grow (being part of the SPI faculty), and enhance my personal skills (Chairing the SSEC Board). These are skills that I might not ever have developed had I not been challenged by the amazing staff and volunteers at SSEC. Through the SSEC I have met many fascinating people who have helped me learn more about who I am, what I am capable of accomplishing, and how I can help change the world one student at a time.
I have had the opportunity and privilege to work with the SSEC in a variety of roles: as an SPI participant, faculty member and facilitator at many SPIs, as well as served on the Advisory Board. I continue to serve the SSEC as the facilitator of the International SPI each summer and at other SPIs as requested. Every touch point I have had with this organization has reaffirmed my commitment to our SSEC mission and how important this mission is not only for the students of our country but for the children of the entire world. I am very fortunate that my two daughters were blessed with great science teachers throughout their education and both have careers in medicine and health care. As much as I would love to take the credit for their career choices, I became a believer a little too late! This is why I will continue to engage in the meaningful and transformative work of the SSEC.
John Tully is the President & COO of Michelin Development Company as well as the Director of Michelin Development North America. In his 41 year career has served Michelin in a variety of management positions beginning with Marketing and Sales support function and recently serving as the Director of Community Relations for Michelin North America, Inc. before moving to Ontario, Canada to begin directing and implementing Michelin Development (Canada) Inc. At present, John lives in Greenville, South Carolina with his wife, Marianne, an elementary/middle school principal.