Piute County School District,

I hope you are enjoying the extended weekend. On weekends, as I work around the yard I frequently twist ankles in the holes my kids have dug. My five year old particularly loves to move earth from one place to another and make holes to fill with water. A couple years ago I was given a book about a man that has been called “The Dean of Earthmoving.” His story is remarkable and inspiring.

His name was Robert LeTourneau and it is difficult to read the story of his life without thinking about some of our students. He grew up in the early 1900’s where he learned very early how to work hard and take care of himself. He didn’t have much interest in school and quit early, but he couldn’t get enough of learning. He worked nearly every imaginable hard labor job available to a young man in that time and he mastered every job he took. At one point he apprenticed in a foundry working to shape liquid metal. He asked all the questions he could and took every opportunity. At one point he was told the foundry was a job for a strong back and a weak mind. He most certainly didn’t have a weak mind and quickly moved on to exercising it elsewhere. The foundry taught him some of the basic skills he would later need to build 70% of the earthmoving equipment used in World War II.

Prior to World War I he entered a partnership to start an auto dealership. He had the business running great and then he left to use his skills in the war effort building ships. When he returned his partner had bankrupted the business. When he met with bankers for a loan to restart, they asked him what he had for collateral. All he could do was hold up his two hands. As a mark of his character that was good enough. After buying and selling businesses and working more jobs, he found his passion, moving earth with steel machines. He began building earth moving equipment from the ground up himself, with many of his own modifications and improvements. His improvements would revolutionize the industry as his business grew.

Robert LeTourneau was also a man of extreme faith. Many christians believe in paying 10% of their salary to charity and keeping 90%. Robert committed he would give away 90% and keep the 10% for himself. That 10% might have been difficult to live on at first, but as his strong mind and strong back labored, the 10% became more than enough. Evidence of his charitable donations can be found in many countries.

Over the course of his life he obtained over 300 patents for the various ideas, improvements, and modifications he made to earthmoving equipment. His business moved earth in all parts of the globe. At the age of 76 he was awarded a diploma. Today, LeTourneau University in Texas has over 3,000 students and produces a great number of engineers and scientists.

Students need to know that being good at “school” is not the objective. Being good at “learning” is. Students like LeTourneau want to see right in front of them the direct application of every bit of new knowledge. That can be difficult to do for everything you teach in your classrooms, but I admire your creativity in finding new ways to do it all the time.

Have a great week 4,


If you’re curious how big LaTourneau machines are today….

And if you are curious about the book

Week 4 RG LeTourneau

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