In June 2006, I had the good fortune of being chosen to attend the Mickelson-Exxon Mobile Teachers Academy in Fairfax Virginia. For a week we met daily at the Exxon Corporate Headquarters for an awesome science workshop. This workshop was centered around using best teaching practices. From start to finish, we were treated as professionals. Each day as we got off the bus, both the CEO and Vice president of Exxon would greet us, each man asking how our previous evening had been, or if there was anything they could do to make our day better than the one before. They served us wonderful meals, took us on tours, and we even had our own room accommodations! (Unlike most business people attending conferences, teachers are expected to double or triple up on the room - cost effectiveness don't you know.) We were blown away, and almost immediately began thanking everyone that we spoke to. Time and again, they replied that the real people to thank were Mr. and Mrs. Mickelson. Phil's mother had been a teacher for many years and he and his wife so valued the profession, they had approached Exxon to become partners with them so that they could create this program.
We met enthusiastic peers and celebrities applauding our career. One morning, Dr. Bernard Harris came to our breakfast - Dr. Harris was an astronaut for NASA and spoke on how valuable we were as teachers, and how humbled HE was to be there speaking to us. Wow!
Later, I had the honor of meeting Phil and his wife, Amy. They came to Virginia one evening to speak, Phil kept his arm tightly around his wife. He talked about how important teachers were in his life and how he valued our hard work and the long hours we put in. He expressed how making this commitment to us as teachers and the education of children, was a tribute to his mother, a former teacher. As the pair spoke, I began to feel that they were talking to me as an individual, not to a group of hundreds. Often one would finish the others sentence, and their eyes would meet and a smile appear on each face. It was clear to everyone at the dinner that they were very much on love.
Eleven months ago Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer, and shortly thereafter Phil's mother received the same diagnosis. He chose to stay by his wife's side while she was treated and only recently returned to compete. It was reported that Amy, in her fragile state, stayed in bed most of the week and Phil wasn't sure if she would be at her usual spot waiting as he finished. As the ball went into the 18th hole, Phil looked up and there stood Amy with their three children. With a tear trickling down his check they hugged and victory was theirs.
I am ecstatic that Mr. Michelson won yesterday. Men of this caliber are winners on and off the golf course. But what impresses me the most is he knows how important his family is to him, he will do what he can to better their children's education, and he values other's dedication and hard work. He is a man of honor and a true prince.