East West

Coming from a team where any respect within the team is earned, we have always understood the clicheé actions speak louder than words. If anyone has earned our respect, Mr. James Payne, our teacher and mentor, has received it without hesitation from his teammates.
Mr. Payne, by title, teaches engineering at Stranahan High School. However, as one of his students says, “Class is just the pre-school, the real action happens after school.” And so, every day after school, Mr. Payne opens his classroom to a team ready to work on the Platinum Dragons Robotics Team; a team that has now become the very pride of our school. We come from a magnet school that has struggled to get academic recognition and foster a program that was conducive to learning. Finally, because of Mr. Payne’s hard work, the school has something to boast about.
The building blocks of this team’s foundation have been laid down by this hardworking teacher, and one of the most crucial elements he has stressed is dedication. Mr. Payne has put in more hours than any one else on the team has by being at the door of his classroom every day to invite us, see us off, and take anyone home that needs rides. Despite times of sickness and fever, he still manages to work right next to us.
Moreover, Mr. Payne has a unique way of inspiring us and pushing us to do the best. One of our team members once asked him, “Mr. Payne, have you ever said no to me?” and his response was, “No, I don’t think so…” Instead of turning us down, he offers us an alternative solution and lets us make the final decision. In this way, all team members get the option to present their idea and ultimately find themselves agreeing on an optimal solution and are happy with it. In fact, whenever there is a team discussion, you will usually find him sitting in the back of the classroom observing the ideas as they come.
Mr. Payne has even left us the option of what clothes to wear at regionals. We had the idea to wear bright orange jumpsuits to our regional and championship and he, as usual, said “sure, if you can make it happen!” In fact, Mr. Payne even wore a jumpsuit himself! This was topped off with painted face and head and mug shots of each team member – all in the name of a little fun!
More than fun, Mr. Payne also makes sure every student is included in the technical analysis during the building season. It is one thing to tell us what to do, but it is another to sit down and teach us what is happening through drawings and multiple explanations. It takes the patience of a superman… or just the patience of Mr. Payne.
One of the most significant things about our teacher is that he knows each and every student on a personal level. This means that if any of us need anything, we feel comfortable enough to approach Mr. Payne and know he will do whatever he can to provide what is best for us. This brings forth an extra dimension: our mentor is more than just a good teacher; he is a person that we trust and who understands us enough to help us pursue our endeavors, as well as be there for us when we need it. It is through this unrequited love that we come together as a family, and Mr. Payne has started it all by using his own life as an example.