The American Optician

Summer 2017

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7 G I V I N G B A C K Those Who Can, Do… and Teach! I n many of the opticianry schools in this country, opticians have left their former positions as retail managers or lab technicians to teach courses such as Optics I and II and Dispensing Lab I and II. Some remain in their opticianry positions and teach in their off hours to accommodate this passion. So what is it about teaching our craft that is compelling enough to have opticians make these commitments? George Bourque, Jr., has been a shop owner in Concord, MA, for 18 years. He and his wife, Lisa, successfully run this very busy shop. He is also the president of the Opticians Association of Massachusetts, but in his spare time Bourque teaches in Boston at the only opticianry school in Massachusetts, the Ben Franklin Institute of Technology. Bourque enjoys the challenge of teaching opticianry. As someone who was interested in teaching for many years, he jumped at the chance to join the opticianry program's staff. Meeting students with varied needs and learning styles has kept him excited about his craft. "In one class, I had a student who was an optical engineer, a student who was living in a shelter, and an English as a Second Language student. It was a great challenge because I had to learn how to explain each topic differently," Bourque explained. Another motivator for Bourque is helping students with real life, often complex problems that occur within an optical shop. "The benefit is I can give them real life lessons about recent interactions with patients. If I have a patient who can't see out of their eyeglasses, the students and I determine what could be the problem," recounted Bourque. Finding time for both is difficult, so Bourque teaches only one day a week, offering the school a 12-hour day to cover his courses. He closes his office on that day to avoid any conflicts. For opticians who are teaching, such as Bourque, the affiliation with state associations is a huge advantage to students as well. Often, they are encouraged to get involved in the association and even to attend board meetings. This introduction to leadership can translate into creating future leaders. Four of Bourque's former students are now board members in the Opticians Association of Massachusetts. "This affiliation gives them access to other opticians with different experiences," said Bourque. "It gives them access to different sales reps who can offer them products they may never have been exposed to, and it gives them a sense of the greater world of opticianry." Dibby Bartlett is a director on the board of the Opticians Association of America.

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