When middle school teachers say goodbye to their students at the end of the year, they often don’t know what kind of impact they’ve had on the kids.
These educators are critical to a student’s development, yet their efforts often go unnoticed. But there’s one person who has made sure that his 8th grade science teacher got the recognition he deserved for changing his life.
Albert Siedlecki has been teaching science at Memorial Middle School in Medford Township, New Jersey, for over 40 years. The kids call him “Mr. Sie,” and he has taught hundreds of children with his hands-on technique.
Mr. Sie loves his job and pushes students to do their best. And while he loves his work, he never really understood how his students felt about him until he received a surprise phone call.
One of Mr. Sie’s former students from the 1980s, Lee Buono, wanted to speak with him right away. Mr. Sie remembered the name, but he had no clue why Lee was contacting him.
Lee is currently a neurosurgeon. He was compelled to speak to Mr. Sie after operating on one of his patients, a judge. Lee performed an awake craniotomy on the judge because a tumor was in the motor area of speech.
Following the surgery, the judge was able to speak clearly again. The judge was so thankful that he gave Lee a piece of advice that resulted in him reconnecting with his old middle school science teacher.
The judge told Lee to thank the person who helped him decide to be a brain surgeon. Lee immediately knew who it was. According to Lee, the judge said:
“Make sure you thank him for the inspiration to be here.”
When Mr. Sie spoke to Lee, he was overtaken by emotion. He said:
“That phone call changed the way I look at every single student. From that minute forward. When I realized that every single person has this potential.”