For most people, remembering a specific professor is pretty easy. And for Dr. Lee Buono, it was instantaneous. He was just 13 when his science teacher changed his life. To Albert Siedlecki, or Mr. Sie as his students call him, it was probably just another day in class. But Lee would remember what the teacher told him well into his adult years.
“He said to me, ‘You’ve got the hands of a surgeon, you’re a smart, bright boy, and you could be a surgeon, you could be a brain surgeon if you wanted to.’”
Lee was a student of Mr. Sie back in the ’80s, and went on to become — you guessed it, a brain surgeon. But he didn’t think to tell his teacher just how much that simple statement meant to him for many years.
In fact, it was a grateful patient who, after a successful operation, encouraged Lee to reach out. The man told him to thank the person who inspired him to become a neurosurgeon.
The next chance he got, Lee dialed up Memorial Middle School, where Mr. Sie was still teaching, and asked to speak with him.
“The secretary said it’s not another teacher, it’s not a school nurse. It’s a doctor from the Dallas-Fort Worth area who adamantly wants to speak to you right this minute!’”
Shocked by the call, Mr. Sie wasn’t sure what to expect.
Lee explained why he was calling and thanked the teacher for his dedication to all his students.
“That phone call changed the way I look at every single student. From that minute forward. When I realized that every single person has this potential,” Mr. Sie said.
The two reconnected and Dr. Lee even came to visit his old teacher’s class. When he got there, though, he was blown away by a gift that Mr. Sie offered him.
Watch the moment the teacher presents something special to his former student and hear more about this touching story below.
Teachers do more than just instruct their students. They have the potential to encourage and shape their future dreams. For Mr. Sie, teaching is just one part of the job… building his students up to become thoughtful, intelligent adults is what he loves.