Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

Featuring articles written by Crane Staffulty

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Joe Teaching
Joe Donahue

As I write this, I am six weeks, four days, and 12 hours away from retirement. But who’s counting? Once I retire, it will be the first time since I was fourteen years old that I have not had at least a part time job. My father was a contractor and starting around fourteen, and I worked for him during summers and school breaks. It took me over ten years to complete my bachelor's degree because I had to put school on hold many times while I worked to save enough to continue my education...

As I write this, I am six weeks, four days, and 12 hours away from retirement. But who’s counting? Once I retire, it will be the first time since I was fourteen years old that I have not had at least a part time job. My father was a contractor and starting around fourteen, and I worked for him during summers and school breaks. It took me over ten years to complete my bachelor's degree because I had to put school on hold many times while I worked to save enough to continue my education.

So for the majority of my life, I’ve always worked. Here is a list of the jobs I’ve had throughout my career: gas station attendant (remember when someone else pumped your gas?), carpenter, cabinetmaker, plumber, electrician, native plant seed collector, assembly line worker, sewer cleaner, bricklayer, construction laborer, chef, house painter, mason, motel maintenance worker, wellness director, occupational medicine department head, injury prevention coordinator, physical therapy assistant, and, of course, teacher.

Each one of these occupations required me to learn something new. I have always welcomed the chance to learn new things, thus I feel that I am truly a lifelong learner. Here at Crane, I’ve always felt that my first obligation to my students has been to instill a curiosity and a passion for learning. I encourage my students to try new things and to not worry about failure, but rather embrace failure as a chance to learn to “figure things out.” It’s a mindset that can sometimes get you into hot water, but more often helps you add another notch of knowledge to your belt.

As a teacher, I feel that part of my responsibility is to help students develop grit--the motivation, willingness, and passion to continue with a challenge no matter how often they might fail or how difficult it may seem. Our fast paced, ever-changing global economy makes it difficult to know exactly what jobs will be available five or ten years from now. Preparing students by making them confident to try and to learn new things is the best we can do. So, no matter what your age-- middle school student, or retired teacher--it’s important to always want to learn and to continue to experiment, and fail. Yes, even in retirement.

Joe Donahue
Director of Engineering

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