From the Great Lakes to the Sands of Arabia
Patt and Mike in Georgetown, Colorado

"Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

These are the words of Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and, more recently, joint U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria. Annan’s emphasis on the importance of education resonates with Aramcons the world over.

As any annuitant can readily attest, living and working in Saudi Arabia is an educational experience in and of itself for every member of the family, from fathers and mothers to sons and daughters. For the children, that has meant receiving a classroom education in one or more of the fine compound schools. For families like that of Mike Staley, Badge Number 191957, the connection between the power of education and the benefits of living and working in the Kingdom is especially strong.

For two decades beginning with his arrival in Saudi Arabia in 1981, Mike taught at Dhahran Junior High. During that time, he and his wife Patt raised three children—JLynn, Shawn, and Ryan—who benefitted greatly from the fine education offered thanks to strong support from Aramco.

From the Great Lakes to the Sands of Arabia
Mike and Patt

During the summer of 1980, as the U.S. economy was approaching a pronounced recession, teaching professionals like Mike living in Michigan were being hit hard as manufacturing companies laid off personnel, immediately and adversely impacting school systems across the state and the men and women who staffed them. After thirteen years of teaching in the Great Lakes State, all the while raising a family of three kids, he found it difficult to survive financially on a teacher’s meager wages. Finally, he and Patt decided it was time to make a move—halfway around the world, as it turned out, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As Mike tells it, the roots of his decision to make such a dramatic move stemmed from a critical childhood experience:

“My decision to work for Aramco actually came about when I was in sixth grade and was reading one of my father’s National Geographic magazines. I saw a picture of the Taj Mahal with the caption, “See the World, Join Aramco.” I cut that article out and set that as my goal. I knew that someday I would do this.”

Thanks to determination and good fortune, Mike saw his childhood dream come true.

Mike remembers the people he met in Arabia with a special fondness:

“There were so many times we experienced graciousness, humbleness, and generosity from the local people. During one drive to downtown Khobar, my muffler came off and I stopped by a garage in Thugbah to ask for assistance. Even though I did not have the money for his service, the man replaced my muffler with a new one and said I could pay him back later. I did not expect this ‘gift of trust.’ Our twenty years in the Kingdom were replete with kindness from all our neighbors.”

From the Great Lakes to the Sands of Arabia
From L to R: Ryan, Sandi, Jlynn, Pepper, Marcus, Olivia, Hannah, Edith, Shawn

Retired now and living in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, Mike writes that, “Both Patt and I volunteer over at Benderson Park which is a World Class Rowing and Aquatic Sports Center. We both are active in CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), volunteer for local shelters, belong to many organizations, spend time fishing in our kayaks, and always enjoy our local shooting range. Life is good!”

With no plans for attending the upcoming Aramco Reunion, Mike nonetheless encourages former colleagues, friends, and students to contact him by email or snail mail.

Mike’s email address is [email protected].

His street address is 11408 Pine Lilly Place, Lakewood Ranch, Florida 34202 USA.

“Aramco has given us the ability to live a comfortable life,” Mike concluded his recent email to AXP. “The Company has provided us the opportunity to share this with our three kids, all of whom are presently teaching in Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur.”

Mike and Patt are no doubt proud that their three children have chosen teaching as a profession. Together, they and their children are the living embodiments of Kofi Annan’s words: “Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”