Doctor loses sight, gains new career

Greer Michael has an unlikely classmate in her senior statistics class at Ashland High School &

her father.

Philip Michael, 55, started his student teaching with high school math teacher Brenda Paustian this fall in the final year of his preparation to become a math and physics teacher. Michael was a doctor until he temporarily lost his vision eight years ago.

After six surgeries to correct the eye disease Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy, which causes excessive scar tissue in the eye, Michael regained some vision, but not enough to continue practicing medicine. He started searching for a second career and landed on teaching.

"I would have been one of those doctors who practiced until 85 or 90, because I loved medicine," he said.

But he decided the reason he really enjoyed medicine was working with people, and teaching was another way to dedicate himself to helping others.

"I'm looking forward to being with kids and being let into their lives, helping them not just with math or physics, but to learn how to think," he said.

For now, he is mainly observing classes, but eventually he will have the opportunity to teach classfuls of students, including his daughter, how to think through problems.

"It's kind of unusual going to school and having your dad there," his daughter, Greer said. "I didn't really think that you were allowed to be in your dad's class."

Having her dad so close has some perks, she said, such as being able to borrow the car and maybe some homework help. She isn't planning on offering her dad any teaching tips, however.

"I probably won't give him any pointers, because he probably won't listen to them anyway," she said.

Michael's son Wynn also attends the high school, but is not in any of his classes.

Neither Greer nor Wynn plans on going into medicine or teaching. Wynn has considered marine biology and Greer said she wants to do something more artistic.

Whatever they and the rest of Michael's students decide to do, he is focusing on building the foundation in part by drawing on his own experiences.

"Their generation will change careers a lot," he said. "I get the luxury of switching from one great career to another great career, so hopefully I can pass on some skills to help them be able to do the same."

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