Dear MSEL Engineers,

This year has been exciting, fun, challenging, frustrating, hard, easy, and educational all at the same time. It was my first time teaching this course, and for sure, I will miss the junior class this year very much. The year was a success and I enjoyed teaching this talented and caring group of students.

This is a group of students who love school so much that it was a difficult task to get them to put their homework down… at first! They would sneak doing homework from every class at every chance they got. When most students are sneaking cell phones or gum, these students are sneaking getting their homework done! I mean, I understand needing to get things done and the obvious love you all have for homework, but I hope I made you go outside of your comfort zones and challenged you to figure things out, use your hands, and more importantly to embrace project-based learning!

From dishing out homework (you ask and you shall receive), to taking awesome class field trips, I now know the fox song, or coyote song (I can’t fully remember), that riding in a car on the way to fieldtrips can be an adventure, and that students have so much more going on in their lives.

Before I leave you to your senior year I thought I would give some Oropallo advice. I try not to wander off topic during class because I feel that every minute you are out of your seats creating and solving problems is improving your quality of life. But here’s my chance to offer insight into what I call “mental tool use.” Since you have all taught me a lot along the way, here is my chance to leave you with some parting words of wisdom.

I taught you about tools, confidence, and creating this year. Those tools you now are comfortable using just happen to be the ones you use to build, fix, and create physical things. But yes, I do have a lot of other tools to offer, believe it or not- the non-physical tools in my toolbox of life, so here is some advice for you.

No matter what situation you get yourself in, there’s a chance for you to learn from it. Every time you learn something you can log it into your mental toolbox, and use these tools for the rest of your life. Mental tools are the same as physical tools. You have to learn how they work, and it might take a couple tries, but once you become comfortable with your tools and your confidence improves, you can use the appropriate tools to solve problems and create the ‘impossible.’ Take everything you encounter and use it to your advantage. The worst of times only make the good times that much better.

It doesn’t matter how good of an artist, student, athlete, cook, builder, or whatever else you choose to do, you are. The only thing that truly matters is the type of person you are. How you approach situations, and your willingness to understand, are what make you awesome. Be helpful to others and never be afraid to try anything. And by anything you know what I mean ;). Always take time to view the world through other people’s perspectives. Try to look at the bright side of situations even though I know a bright side can be hard to find sometimes.  Change the way you think about things when you think you don’t like it! 🙂

When you choose a job, follow your heart, not money, and do what you think it the right thing. Don’t be a sellout for a paycheck. Do well for as many people as you possible can. I know you all think I am crazy for the organic, anti-Starbucks, etc., but I am serious! I wish someone told me these things when I was younger. I feel confident and awesome every time I buy something that supports something good. And living in Marin, we all have the unique and much coveted opportunity to support our GMO-free environmentally conscious local community in so many ways. I want you all to feel the sense of empowerment that comes with making independent decisions! 🙂 Don’t just buy stuff because it’s cheap. Don’t do things because others are. Know who you are.

You guys are capable of doing such great things that I can’t wait to see what you all are going to do with your lives. I know you will all be the best people you can! Stand up for others who are weaker than you. Not everyone is as strong as you, but everyone deserves someone to back them up.

When you have an apartment… pay your rent on time and do your dishes! 🙂 And most importantly…. smile. Never underestimate the smile tool. It is one of my personal favorites, and lets face it… it’s lighter than a saw, and takes up no space while commuting! (put that in your mental toolbox! It’s like the hammer, basic but essential!)

Think It. Form It. Build It.

Keep in touch! Visit me next year, and continue being awesome. I will miss you guys!

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