Colby Newman, Rob Kinney, Ron Waggoner and Jerry Crouch are “the teachers that teach you real stuff” at Mt. Pleasant Community High School.
The four teach construction, welding, automotive tech and electricity and electronics, partnering with Southeastern Community College to bring high school students both experience and college credits for an industrial career.
Shop classes under Newman begin with Woods 1, 2 and 3. Woods 1 is focused on safety and an introduction to machinery.
“It’s very important they feel safe in operating hand tools and power tools,” Newman said during a Mt. Pleasant school board meeting on Monday, March 11.
In Woods 2, they focus on wood joints and introducing hand tools. Woods 2 is focused on cabinetry and bigger, more complicated projects.
The next step is Construction Tech, which gives students credits from SCC and an OSHA Safety Training credit. The final class — building trades — is the last in the program, giving students the chance to build a house from the ground up.
The building trades class is building their 40th house this year at 402 South Adams Street in Mt. Pleasant, starting from the foundation up. Students get to work with framing the house to putting in electrical, plumbing and even cabinets.
Students in building trades can also start to get experience in concrete work by assisting whatever company is contracted to lay the concrete for the house that year, Newman said.
“They do the construction process from start to finish,” Newman said.
Construction classes are complemented by courses like Kinney’s welding classes. Students have the chance to earn 15 dual credits through the welding program. Only 35 credits from SCC can get students a diploma, Kinney mentioned. An associate degree is 63 credits, Kinney said.
“I really take care of that first semester of college, if they take the welding program at SCC,” Kinney said.
There are six welding booths at MPCHS. Kinney accepts 12 students per class. For three years, every booth has been filled, he said.
“We do not have a shortage of students,” Kinney said. “Students want to take this class, and the industry wants them. We have a big need for welders. Once they get through the program, they don’t have any trouble finding a job.”
Waggoner’s electricity and electronics classes also engages students in hands-on activities. They learn how to build a circuit, how to solder and can take their knowledge to the building trade class, Waggoner said.
In automotive tech, Crouch works with students to learn about the mechanics of cars, car insurance and how to find how much a new or used car should cost.
All four teachers agreed that there is “limited space” for the number of students interested in these classes.
“We have so much interest in welding, we could probably double the area we have now and fill it every semester,” Waggoner said. “Auto shop is the same way. I feel like at this point, we need to plan to expand those areas, and I hope you would take that into consideration,” he said to the school board.
“It is a challenge sometimes,” Newman said. “I meet some roadblocks with the ways I’d like to expand and grow our program.”
“We really need to update and expand our facilities,” Kinney said.