I grew up in central Florida in the fifties. Martin Marietta had just opened a major facility employing thousands, and new homes were under construction virtually everywhere. As a boy, it seemed there was always a sand pile to be played in.

I remember building a fort with a buddy in a vacant lot near our home. It grew late, and my dad yelled for me to come inside and do my homework. I can’t remember my exact response, but I do recall spending two hours standing in the corner before bedtime. It seems that I told my father I didn’t need an education, and that I was going to become a ditch digger. To this day, I do remember what Dad said: “Son. You can become anything you want, but, if you want to be more than a ditch digger one day, you’ll need an education.”

I got a similar piece of advice years later from Dad after I was offered the position of assistant manager for Gooding’s Groceries the week before I left for college. Dad told me that the grocery business was an honorable business, and that I’d likely never have a better boss than Jim Gooding, but – if I wanted a college education – now was the time to go. If I got used to a paycheck, he said, I’d never go back to school.

I’ve always been grateful for that advice, as my collegiate education provided me with the opportunity to enjoy a career serving others, and working with some of the finest people on the planet. I’d have been a really good ditch digger – maybe even one of the best – but owning and operating a small business as a general dentist has been incredibly fulfilling.

Taking my father’s advice to heart, I never stopped learning, nor did I stop trying to improve my clinical skills for the welfare of my patients, or my management skills for the benefit of my teammates. That’s what professionals do.

My childhood memories of playing in sand piles with my elementary school buddies are good ones, but my father’s encouragement to “get an education” was most beneficial. It’s thirteen degrees outside today, and our backyard pond is frozen over. Ditch-digging sounded pretty good as a boy, but – especially today – I’m thankful I heeded my father’s advice!


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“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest
Benjamin Franklin

Dr. Kerr

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  • David P. Smith, DDS says:

    Yes-Good advice from your Dad. As a parent, I feel that one of my top priorities is to help place my kids in a position to succeed. Of course, it remains up to them to carry out their plans and achieve their goals.

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