Sean The Student

Mike Wightman
Associate Professor, Automotive Technology

It seems like I’ve known Sean forever.  He grew up in Mid-Michigan with his mother–a teacher– father–an electrician– grandmother, and brother.  As a child, Sean wanted to be a veterinarian.  Then he grew to realize being a vet wasn’t a good fit since he hated school.  Quite ironically, with his valedictorian grandmother and salutatorian mother with a master’s degree, education was always emphasized at home.  Sean was relatively bright, but not a motivated student.  Unsure what he wanted to do with his life, he still managed to get decent grades throughout high school.

When Sean graduated, he was still lost.  He had a job and thought taking a year off from school before going back would be a good idea.  His mother disagreed.  She felt if he took time off, he would never go.  So they compromised, and he went.  Sean chose automotive technology.  He always loved anything with an engine.  Still not sure where his life was going, he got a job at an auto shop.  He switched majors, tried a few different things, and then went back to automotive.

That’s when he met his mentor, Tom.  Tom had Sean in several classes.  He could see that Sean had a gift.  He seemed to always understand who was “getting it” and who wasn’t.  Sean would clarify communication in class between the Instructor and the students.  Tom pulled Sean aside and said, “You would make an excellent teacher.”  Sean thought, “Really? The kid that hates school, a teacher?”  As crazy as this seemed, Tom’s confidence in Sean was all it took to motivate him.  Sean worked his way up, starting as a student employee, then eventually full-time professor.  Sean’s life was going better than he could have dreamed.  Then came a major change in administration.  Sean was told he would no longer be full time.  He was devastated.

Sean had dedicated his life to his school.  The union said not to worry; his position was protected.  However, the administration had no regard for legal contracts.  Sean’s income was cut by two thirds; his life was crashing down.  Every morning he dreaded going to school.  The sight of the building made his stomach churn.  But once he got in the classroom everything was right again.  He knew it was where he was supposed to be.  Even after being betrayed, Sean never lost his professionalism.  He still strives to be better, taking seminars in his vocation and classes to be a better educator.  When his students ask him what to expect after they get out of school, he replies “You’ll have to let me know. I’m still there.”