I grew up on the Southside of Indianapolis, where my mom was a teacher and my dad, while working in the lab at a hospital, was a teacher to his fellow employees along with other labs around Indiana. I grew up loving science and I remember doing makeshift experiments with my parents and my sister – who, incidentally, grew up to be a geneticist and now is also a teacher – when I was a kid. We would melt glass to make art, put white flowers in colored water, and generally have family learning time, even when we didn’t have the means for formal materials.
Even through high school, I found science to be kind of just a “fun thing to do”. It was disconnected from any of the careers I saw around me, all of which were some form of teachers. However, in my Junior year Physics class, that all changed. Our teacher announced one day that we’d have a new student teacher. He was new to the profession, and we all expected a 20-something wet-behind-the-ears newbie. Instead, in walked Mr. Ross – with grey hair, wire glasses, and nearly 60-year-old retired Engineer. To me, an Engineer was a person who drove a train, so I had no clue what he was talking about when he introduced himself! However, then he began to connect the innovations he had been working on at an engine manufacturer to all of those equations and lab experiments we worked on in class.
I learned that Engineers were the ones who solved so many of the world’s problems and create new products and awe-inspiring inventions. Mr. Ross knew that every student would benefit from a look behind the curtain to see what the future might be like if we worked hard enough. It was eye-opening for all the students to see the connection to “real world” applications, and it made it that much more motivating to put in the work at school! Most importantly though, I learned the value that one person can have on a young student, especially when someone like Mr. Ross is passionate enough to leave a corporate job or a cushy retirement to rededicate their life to using what they’ve learned in their career to inspire kids.
Years later I found myself emulating Mr. Ross by becoming an Engineer at Procter & Gamble, a multinational Fortune 50 company. That position allowed me to continue my learning and exploration by living in 5 countries across 3 continents. However, I always knew that at some point in my career I would emulate my mom, sister, dad, and now my wife as well – to go back and help students using the experience I had gained, just like Mr. Ross.
So after 23 years at P&G, I became a middle school Engineering teacher back in Indianapolis. I love teaching kids about Engineering and life lessons, and now I have the privilege of working with Braintrust to train and teach those who are looking to become more effective professional communicators. I strive to bring the principles of connecting individually, a passion for lifelong learning, and a love of teaching to everything I do.
I’d love to learn more about why you do what you do! Feel free to connect with me via drew.watson@