Sapulpa junior high teacher Darius Todd is hopeful about the future.
His focus on the future is about the careers that will be available to Oklahoma youth in coming years. As a science teacher, Todd encourages students to pursue studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).
“STEM is about problem solving, and they’ll need those skills,” he says. “It puts them in an accelerated position to make discoveries and advance industries like oil and gas.”
According to the Education Commission of the States, STEM jobs are projected to grow 13% between 2017 and 2027. Todd sees future opportunity for his students right here in their home state, specifically with the oil and natural gas industry.
“It’s expanding and a great career path, so why wouldn’t I teach about it?” he says. “At the end of the day, I want them to become life learners, good citizens and able to provide for their family.”
In talking about the energy sector, Todd notes how understanding the availability, cost, cleanliness and renewability of all sources should be taken into consideration.
“The solution for any state or country is not going to be one source. It’s going to be a combination,” he says. “It takes a sophisticated understanding of the costs and benefits to know which mix is good for which region.”
Todd talks about initially having previously conceived notions about the oil and natural gas industry.
“I guess I thought of it as the rich people. But it’s not about the power brokers, it’s about common Oklahomans,” Todd continues, “It’s about the guy in the field in production, or the geologist that studies maps and figures out where the oil is. It’s about the everyday man and woman who’s able to feed their family because of oil and gas.”
He’s quick to point out the need to equip today’s youth with the ability to balance viewpoints. He notes the abundance of information at their fingertips and the need to weigh sources against one another in order to arrive at productive conclusions.
“It’s an essential skill. We’ve got to do a better job of teaching it.”
Talking with Todd about the most rewarding aspect of being an educator, he lights up with his response.
“The ah-ha moments are the best. Where a student tells me he used a concept at home and it worked. Or when one says, ‘You know, Mr. Todd, I thought I hated science, but I like it now.’ When they realize they’re learning and building self-confidence, that’s what it’s all about for me.”