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I vividly remember my interview for a teaching position in Richardson ISD and remember thinking that being offered a position would be a long-shot at best.  The interview lasted maybe 15 minutes – then I was asked to leave the room.  The two individuals that interviewed me came out of the room about 30 seconds later and offered me the job.  And though I’ve been here for 10 years, in many ways it has felt like no more than a couple of days have passed since that initial interview.

A lot of wonderful things have happened over the course of time – UIL Science and Academic Decathlon are two that I have to start with.  UIL Science in some form or fashion has made it to the regional competition eight times over the last decade – that is an amazing accomplishment.  I could try to list all of our competitors over the years, but you all know who you are.  When I was in high school, there were two things I always gravitated towards: band and UIL Science.  To those who participated directly and indirectly, thank you for allowing me to continue to be a part of this competition I loved so much when I was in high school.  Then there is Academic Decathlon – wow, what a year it was for this program.  The team finished tenth in the state overall this past year, we had individual students that topped the competition at the state level, and we even made a trip to nationals!  I learned so much from this experience this past year – to the Decathletes: thank you!

Over ten years, I’ve had the honor of teaching some wonderful classes: Chemistry, Anatomy, Chemistry PreAP, and of course AP Biology.  There are so many wonderful memories that I could share – but rather than that, I’d prefer to focus on things more holistically than specific memories.  I’ve helped some of you cope with family issues, I’ve talked some of you out of bad college decisions, I’ve shown you how to dissect, I’ve written some of your recommendation letters, I’ve answered the phone when you called to let me know that you were accepted to medical school or got your first job, I’ve attended your plays & shows (and I even played the triangle with your orchestra on one occasion), I’ve been there when things fell apart and when they came back together, and I’ve graded all of your papers.  Every minute of this experience has been so rewarding for me, Jamie, (and now) Deanna. 

I know you each will continue to do wonderful things – not because you read this (or the Campbell Biology book – but that probably helps), but you instead do wonderful things because it is simply your style.  Being amazing and making meaningful differences is just simply innate to you all.  I encourage you all to continue to make those meaningful differences in our world and to never forget to raise your bar to do even greater things.  You all are a personal hero to me for all that you do and will continue to do.

So, there it is, 10 wonderful years that felt like no more than about 10 minutes (maybe 10 days, but nothing more).  And I guess that’s the way it really should be – you have to find something to do with your life that provides you with so much happiness that ten years passes by on the scale of minutes or days. 

My favorite question of all time has been, “Mr. Fields why are you a teacher?”  I’ve always had a politically correct answer that is partially true but not entirely true, and so I don’t think I ever shared with any of you why I really became a teacher – so here’s my final story (not about my dad as is usual – but instead but about my dad’s dad).  When I was a senior in high school my grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a second time; generally, people don’t make it to a second diagnosis with pancreatic cancer – he was one of the lucky ones that caught his initial diagnosis in stage 1 and was able to enjoy three additional years with early, aggressive treatment.  I remember going to his house on my birthday my senior year; as I was getting there a former student of his (all grown up with kids of his own by that time) was just leaving in tears (my grandfather was a teacher and principal too).  When I walked into my grandfather’s bedroom (he was, of course, in bed as his condition was very terminal at this point – he ended up passing away about two weeks later), he wished me happy birthday.  And I realized that he had a tear in his eye; without hesitation he gave me the best birthday present and piece of advice I’ve ever received (and one that changed the trajectory of my life) - so through his words my final lesson to you all...He said, “You can’t live your life focused on money or material possessions – you have to live your life focused on helping others and making differences in their lives.”  I think he would be proud of all we accomplished. Thank you all for helping me continue his legacy and for helping to re-enforce the advice he shared with me.  

Forever Your Teacher,

Matt Fields

Bye - That was fun for me.  Go Mustangs!