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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: School Board Candidate Paul Cushing

By Missourian Reader Community
March 16, 2012 | 12:46 p.m. CDT

Cushing's bio is also posted on his website. It was printed out along with bios from the other three candidates for the Columbia Missouri National Education Association school board candidate forum Thursday evening.

I was born in New Jersey and lived there until I was 10 when we moved to Clearwater, Florida. I went to school in Pinellas County, one of the fastest growing counties in Florida during the early to mid 1970s. There I experienced rampant population and development growth first hand. During my first two years of high school, we were on double sessions. Juniors and seniors went from 6:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., and freshman and sophomores went from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.. I can remember riding the bus home at 6:00 in the evening. Although the teachers never complained, we didn't know any different.

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After high school, instead of going to college, I worked for my father's business in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was a demolition contractor, and I operated heavy equipment and drove tractor trailers. I still maintain a CDL driver's license. After Cushing Demolition, I worked for a Caterpillar dealer for a couple of years in the track shop. By the second year it was clear to me that guys coming from vocational school were able to start in the main shop and at a dollar or more per hour than I was making. Both an eye opener and motivator, it encouraged me to go back to school. I moved back to Clearwater and registered and began attending a county-run vocational school. Now called P-Tech, Pinellas Vocational Technical Institute was both cheap and effective. I went to class or labs for 6 hours each day for two years and earned a diploma in Electro-Mechanical technology.

Following vocational school I went to work for Photo Electronics Corporation back in West Palm Beach as a technician working on circuit boards and digital film-video-analyzers for the professional photography industry. It was there I found what would end up being my life’s work. During my time at PEC, I began to take college classes to further my career.

I moved to Missouri in 1994 for a job at a photo lab in Springfield. Until that time, photo labs relied on chemical processes, optical-mechanical printers and film. However, the digital imaging revolution was fast approaching, and my time at PEC had prepared me. I continued to take college classes for programming and information technology in order to prepare me for a move from a career in machine support to more IT/programming centric work.  I worked at that lab for 5 years and then took a position at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State) in the Computer Services department. In January of 2001, I moved to Columbia for a position at Miller's Professional Imaging and have been here since.  

I have been able to grow tremendously at Miller's. I continued to learn on my own as my responsibilities changed and our lab moved toward a complete digital imaging workflow. Working with vendors such as Kodak and Fuji, we were able to build systems that process thousands of digital files each day. In my current role, I work with others to maintain our infrastructure and write programs to interface with both production and business systems. Miller's goal is 100% customer satisfaction, and everything I do must positively impact our customer relationship. Sometimes that means building more efficient systems, and other times it's about providing tools that help us define and improve accuracy.

After 11 very successful years, I consider the Columbia area and Boone County my home. I live in western Boone County, close to the Missouri river, on 10 beautiful acres with the best neighbors one could ask for. I believe Columbia has a great balance between liberal and conservative, and the university, its professors and support staff and the educated people who stick around after college make/keep the town great. I hope that I can give something back to Boone County by serving on the school board and making a positive impact in some small way.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how.