Getting All of Our Students to Invest In Themselves

Todd M. Cotter



The fall of 2018 a young man came into the aviation program and for the purpose of this story I’ll refer to him as Max. Aviation is a two year program and I didn’t have Max as a student until the following fall semester.  Max came from a highly educated family and they expected independence from him. At times Max required all of my energy to keep him engaged, motivated and in attendance. He was a young man that needed motivation so he could be successful. Max was often up against the maximal allowable missed time that would get him removed from the program.

Perhaps the most important moment in his experience was when Max completed a difficult lab assignment without fault and in a timely manner. I told Max that I was really proud of him and that he had what it took to complete this program successfully. In this program Max needed to understand that this program has many hurdles to overcome and he should not be one of those hurdles.

I got to know Max on a personal level and found out that he was supporting his very young family while going to school and working full time. The day I told Max how proud I was of him he began investing in himself more. Max was hardworking but not ambitious about his goals. He was learning about how the of perceptions of others had measurable effects in his life and began changing his attitude at school and around his peers. Max started coming to school prepared to learn and it was then that I realized that he only needed words of encouragement. It appeared he was rarely told that someone was proud of his efforts

Max was one of the first in his class to acquire his FAA mechanics license and secured a great career at a national business jet repair center. I was with Max the moment he got his license and seeing his tears of joy made the extra effort worth it. Sometimes students need to be told that they are worth investing in themselves. This reminded me that teachers cannot give up on any of them, they are our future.