The "Non" Science Guy: A Laser Alum Reflects

"Everything happens for a reason..." I am a firm believer that everything--good or not--does happen to help us through life. I have been very fortunate in my life, but it has not been without some very difficult times. It may not be apparent at the time, but there is meaning behind all that happens to us in life. My becoming involved with the SSEC (NSRC back in the day) was one of these extraordinary events.

I grew up as a "non" science guy. I was better at history, writing Haiku's, or doing a book report (I still love to read) than at science or mathematics. I took the communication route in college and ended up in business (as I said earlier, everything happens for a reason!).

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!

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!

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. 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.

In the coming weeks we will continue to feature individuals who have participated in SSEC initiatives, professional development workshops, or leadership development institutes. If you would like to learn more about any of our upcoming opportunities, please visit our Upcoming Events page.

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About the Author

John Tully
President and COO of Michelin Development Company

John is a longtime LASER model and SSEC advocate and a former Advisory Board chair.