EXCHANGE: Teacher Helps Rebuild Industrial Arts Curriculum



OAKLAND, Ill. (AP) – British teacher Jon Welch helped the Oakland School District rebuild its industrial arts program this fall after the program was halted last year.

Students in industrial arts courses are now working on hands-on projects ranging from building birdhouses to building sections of scaled-down modular homes.

“It’s a good hands-on experience for our students,” Oakland Superintendent Lance Landeck said.

Oakland’s new industrial arts teacher first visited the United States in the late 1970s as he was learning about timber frame construction for his bachelor’s degree in construction. Welch said he was employed by a company in Paris, Ill. During this time and had made lasting friendships in the area.

Welch said he had subsequently worked for more than 20 years in product testing and certification, specializing in fire suppression systems. After his employer closed, Welch ran his own kitchen installation department for a few years, then returned to school to become an industrial arts teacher.

Welch said he taught schools in Britain for 10 years and then moved to Illinois a few years ago after marrying area resident Dawn Welch, who is a case manager at the Paris community hospital. Welch said he taught Barry in western Illinois for a time and then applied for the job in Oakland.

The district suspended its industrial arts program after the former teacher resigned just before the start of the 2015-2016 school year. Landeck said there was a shortage of industrial arts teachers in Illinois, so the district was concerned about finding a qualified teacher to revive the program for 2016-17.

“We were very fortunate to have a teacher with his experience and skills in the classroom,” Landeck said.

The new teacher said he felt at home in the small town of Oakland. Welch said he had lived for many years in Ayot St. Lawrence, a village of about 100 people in rural southern England. Welch said he appreciated the opportunity to create an industrial arts program “from scratch” in Oakland.

“It’s difficult but rewarding. I feel very privileged to be here, ”Welch said. He added that the district has an excellent management team, an excellent facility in the Lake Crest school building, and state-of-the-art computer-aided design equipment.

One of the first projects Welch and his students tackled this fall was the dismantling of a large wood-frame storage rack that took up much of the workshop floor space.

Welch said they used much of the wood from the rack to build scaled-down modular home sections that simulate bathrooms and kitchens. He said students will gain experience in construction, wiring, plumbing, flooring, insulation, drywall, painting, countertops, tiles and more with this project.

The sections are designed in such a way that they can be demolished by future students so that the components can be reassembled for new projects.

Industrial arts student Clint VonBehrens said he enjoyed learning how to build walls, frame windows, install countertops and learn other hands-on skills in this class project.

“We’ve never been able to do all of this before,” said VonBehrens.

Welch said he plans to involve his students in community service projects next spring. Welch said he also hopes to eventually get vacuum forming equipment for plastic molding in the workshop, build mini-houses as a class project, and offer a dual university course in industrial arts in Oakland.

Most of the Oakland student projects this fall were made possible with building materials donated by the community.

Welch said his “wish list” for donated building materials includes shop equipment, plastic and copper plumbing, metal post systems for walls, ceramic tiles, and cables and outlets. electric.


Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review,


Information from: Herald & Review,

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