skip navigation

As part of CTE Month, I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure of visiting CTE classes District-wide. This article is the last in a three-part series as I met Jennifer, a Timpview student in the welding shop.

Tucked into Timpview’s labyrinthian corridors and through a deceivingly short and inornate door sits a particularly sizable welding shop. The welding shop is a lived-in forgery. A ten-foot metal silhouette Kokopelli adorns the wall alongside other Southwestern art. Auto-darkening welding helmets, protective equipment, gloves, and safety glasses are on the adjoining walls. Beside the workbenches hang angle-grinders, c-clamps, chipping hammers, and framing jigs.

I met with Dan Robertson, a teacher in motion, supporting and instructing students as they crewed stations. To my surprise, another student was co-orchestrating class activities in between her project, answering a student’s question here or there while Mr. Robertson went from station to station. Mr. Robertson explained that the student was a near fixture of the shop, coming in between classes to complete projects. “Her name is Jennifer, and she’s an incredible student,” he informed me.

I was lucky enough to snag an interview with her after she finished her project, and I can confirm after watching her work and talking to her on her welding project– she is incredible.

“I’m from California, and my parents are from El Salvador. There are a few mechanics in my family, but they aren’t welders– I’m the first in my family to get into welding,” Jennifer shared.

“Welding is cool. I told my family about it, and they were excited that I’m into it.”

I asked Jennifer if she could reflect on what sparked her curiosity about welding– what causes a student to get gung-ho over welding?

“Well, I didn’t know welding was an option until the Course Fair, which is a day where we visit unfamiliar classes that sound interesting. I joined then and haven’t looked back.

“It’s also fun to meet new people. Everyone is here to help each other work out project kinks together. I’ve even introduced my friend to the class– she’s never welded before, and now we’re both deep into welding.”

A few minutes later, I met Jennifer’s friend, a girl I saw in the Woodworking shop while interviewing the Woods teacher. The two chatted about woodworking and welding projects before the late bell rang, and her friend whisked away to her next class. Looking around, I noticed other students coupling and partnering in small schools to chat and chip away on work-related tasks. Speaking as a previous teacher, I can tell you that this level of autonomy and self-control is astonishing. Seeing students working away and reflexively offering aid is an incredible task, a task which any teacher would be proud of.

Jennifer continued on her previous point: “Everyone can reach out to each other on a project– our teacher is always everywhere at once, helping students in batches, and it’s nice that his class culture is one where we all help each other out, and like working together on projects. We’re forging and building new things, and it’s inspiring. The teacher loves his job, and that makes me love this class, too.”

This concludes the three-part series as we journey through the CTE courses. Stick with us through the last of CTE month, as we’ll continue coverage of CTE programs, teachers, and students!

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei