The One Million Dollar Class

So this is where it begins. I get this email from a student who was in my class about eight years ago. In the email, the student states that she finished her aeronautical engineering degree and is employed now at Boeing. She’s not writing, though, just to tell me she works at Boeing.

Pretty quickly, she gets to her point. At first, I thought her point was to tell me she recently received a $25,000 annual raise. That wasn’t really it though — there was more. She starts into how much she learned in English class; how she wasn’t a very good writer then; how I helped her with her writing; how appreciative she is for that help.

Then here it comes — the information of all information. Her boss apparently told her that the main reason for her promotion and raise was her ability to communicate. He told her she was the best written communicator he’d witnessed and then went on to discuss the value of that talent to corporate progress.

So…I get out my calculator. She’s about 28 years old so she’ll likely work another 30 years or so. I multiply the $25,000 she’ll keep making in increase times 30 and I get this small number: $750,000. I then think that maybe my help was worth another $250,000 in some way and boom — I’ve taught a million dollar class.

I then wonder if I can mathematically size my overall impact over time to all of my students. I’m perhaps conservative and don’t want to leave humility, so I use the $750,000 figure. I teach high school and about (likely more, but let’s stay polite) 150 students per semester. At this moment, I’ve taught 41 total semesters.

My math equation: 41 x 150 x $750,000.

$4.61 billion

Hmm…and that English class wasn’t very important. Oh — and teachers don’t directly affect the economy.

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