Inspiring Guest Speaker at Middle School

  • An Inspiring Guest Speaker

    Awes Sayville Middle School Students


    In the video entitled Jello in a Jar, there is a startling demonstration.


    Comparing the substance of the human brain to jello, the video shows how a helmet, under certain impact conditions, provides more protection to a jello mold, shaped like the human brain, than a glass jar that represented the less-protective human skull.


    Mr. Bill Hannigan, one of several volunteer speakers who visited the Eighth-grade Home and Career Skills Students as part of Sayville Middle School’s Career and Technical Education program, opened his presentation with this impressive visual, and the students in Ms. Marianne Klepacki’s and Mrs. Cheryl Scantlebury’s classes were immediately riveted.


    The wheelchair-bound, Mr. Hannigan, director of Adaptive Sports and Community Outreach at St. Charles Hospital, obviously spoke from real experience. When he was younger, he had suffered a severe traumatic injury. During his excellent rehabilitation at St. Charles Hospital, he was invited to participate in adaptive sports which helped him recover and accept his new life in a wheelchair. Encouraged by his own achievements and aptitude at adaptive sports, he produced a Powerpoint presentation about it which he showed to the staff at St. Charles Hospital. St. Charles Hospital personnel were so impressed, they offered Mr. Hannigan a job. He has since become the Director of Adaptive Sports and Community Outreach, as well as a public speaker.


    Previous to his injury, Mr. Hannigan had been an electrician. Now married with two children, Mr. Hannigan proved to be inspiring example to his audience of how one person dealt with daunting adversity and found success. His story demonstrated that a willingness to try new things can open doors in the future. Case in point: St. Charles Hospital did not have a position for a Director of Adaptive Sports and Community Outreach, but created the position for Mr. Hannigan due to both his dynamic personality and his perseverance to overcome obstacles of all kinds.


    Mr. Hannigan encouraged the students to be creative in their career pursuits. "Sometimes, it takes a willingness to identify a need in an organization and with the right tools"—as in his case, a Powerpoint presentation— "to fulfill that need by creating a new position."


    “What are the most popular career choices for people who need wheelchairs for mobility?” Eighth-grade student Wyatt Pressler asked during a brief question-and answer-session that followed.


    “Fields in the computer industry,” Mr. Hannigan responded, “are one of the top, career choices,”


    Upon the conclusion of his motivational story, Ms. Klepacki, who wasn’t alone in being moved by his entire presentation, thanked Mr. Hannigan “for sharing his story about his journey. You’ve made a tremendous impact on our students, not only about the use of protective headgear, but also that a Powerpoint presentation can be a career tool for creating a new job.”


    Thanks were also extended to Kim N. Taylor from Learning for Life Executive for arranging the guest speakers for this Career and Technical Education program.