Thomas Michael Van Pelt
I was born in Kingsville, Texas to a beautiful woman I like to refer to as “Mom”. We only lived in Texas for a short time before she brought me to the place I now call home; Jacksonville, Florida. When I was five years of age, my mom married the man I now call “Dad”. At the time, he was a towering man with bright red hair and a beard to match. I tested him as much as any young boy ever could and he responded with a firm hand and a ton of love. Together, they gave me half of everything I ever wanted but absolutely everything I could ever need.
I remember every school I ever attended but it wasn’t until I reached junior high school that I began to appreciate the information that the teachers were giving me. It was during this time that a science teacher named Mr. Weems introduced me to a subject I became quite passionate about, Science. He was a soft spoken with plastic framed glasses but I responded to his teaching methods very enthusiastically. After leaving junior high school, I entered high school quite full of myself and believing that I was capable of anything. I focused quite heavily on computers, which was a new technology at the time, mathematics, and of course science. I took my mandatory two years of science courses which included the study of astronomy but missed the subject quite a bit in my senior year. Because of my appreciation of science, I entered the high school science fair in my senior year even though I had no science class. My project was a three dimensional simulation of galactic collisions and I used my interest in computers to demonstrate my concept. I coded the software myself and much to my amazement, I placed first in my category and took my project to the county level where I also won first place. At the state level, I still placed quite well but not well enough to move forward to the national level but I was pleased none-the-less.
After graduation, I began working with my uncle and grandfather doing refrigeration. This was an excellent move for me as it has provided me with an excellent source of income for the past twenty-five years. I moved to Pensacola in 1991 and in 2007, I began working at the Medical Center Clinic. While working there, I met this beautiful woman that loved me and found something inside of me worthy enough to establish a family. In September of 2011, she gave birth to my son and in June of 2013, she gifted me with a beautiful daughter. With my wife’s encouragement, and finding that my children provided a motivation that I never realized; I discovered that I wanted to do something I had always loved and wanted to do. I wanted to teach science. I then enrolled in Northwest Florida State College determined to become a high school science teacher. I chose high school because I wanted to make an impression on just one child before they enter their journey into adulthood. I want to provide one last positive experience of their time in school and I want to share a subject that I have been so passionate about.
I’m not certain of where my future will take me and my beautiful family but I know where I’ve been and I know the foundation upon which I built my life is very strong. With my wife and children by my side, I walk bravely and confidently forward into my continuing journey called life.
Thank you! Tommy