Five teachers. Five regions. One Advisor of the Year. And one thing in common ... a passion that despite life's turns, brings them back to their first love.
What occupation do you believe can change the world?
SkillsUSA posed the question to students at this years national conference. Their No. 1 answer: teaching.
The resounding response shouldnt come as a surprise, particularly if youve met any of the five top teachers in SkillsUSAs Advisor of the Year recognition program. And there are thousands more like them in the organization.
Yet that level of support from students is very overwhelming, says advisor Ron McGuire of Roseburg (Ore.) High School. In fact, the only reason Im here right now is because of my former students, he told the interviewers who chose him as the years best advisor. Theyre the ones that originally nominated me for this award.
And theyre the ones who say it best like Kevin Mathweg, who calls him a strong advocate for students and their participation in SkillsUSA. Rons leadership and enthusiasm have benefited students, advisors and the entire organization.
A technical drafting instructor, McGuire has been a SkillsUSA advisor since 1993. He worked in industry for many years before returning to his first love, teaching.
His uncle was an automotive instructor, and his father, a carpenter, was a teacher in his own way by passing along his skills.
Although he went into teaching after college, Ron McGuire left the profession and had been building homes for 19 years when oAlthough he went into teaching after college, Ron McGuire left the profession and had been building homes for 19 years when one of his former instructors called to ask about him taking over a night class at a community college. The call rekindled a yearning, he now says. He started thinking about what line of work would be the most fulfilling.
McGuire adds that when hired for the teaching position, he was asked, Why would you want to give up such a successful building career to come back into education, when you know the salary is going to be much less? And I told them, Because Ive built and Ive had fun building. Ive gotten lots of clients, and I think its made a lot of peoples lives happier. But until you can get that self-fulfillment aspect of your life complete, youve not done what youre intended to do. And thats why Im teaching.
For Mary Beth Brace of Hackensack, N.J., it took 20 years to fulfill her dream. When I was in high school, I wanted to become a teacher, Brace says, and at that time my guidance counselor talked me out of it. Going into culinary arts instead, she found success in the hotel industry and her own business. But I always wanted to teach, so I went back to school, got my certification and it came full circle.
Now the chef instructor at the Bergen County Academies, Brace was nominated for the advisor award by student Tramaine Cooper. In five years, Braces SkillsUSA chapter has gone from very small to having Cooper elected state president. We got to do many great things, and hes quite an overachiever, so I think he taught me more than I taught him, she laughs.
Like many SkillsUSA advisors, Bonnie Holaday affectionately calls her students kids. Before starting 25 years ago at Southeastern Career Center in Versailles, Ind., shed retired to have her own children, after eight years as a data processor. The school needed a teacher, so I was recommended to them, she says.
Holaday had never visited the school before, but she remembered when I was working in industry and I took a teachers recommendation on a student at this facility. And we needed somebody quick, and I think the teacher wanted to get rid of the student, and it was not a very good match for us. So after becoming a teacher herself, Id always relate that to the students, that Id want them to be the type of students that would represent the program and would be someone that I would want to hire.
Pam McFarland also went into teaching after starting a family. I had seen the health careers students at the hospital when I was working there, she says. I had a tiny baby and they scheduled me to work all these evening shifts and that didnt work very well. So I saw the ad in the paper and thought, Hey, I would like to do that, work with students.
Even 27 years after taking that job at Richland County (N.D.) Area Career and Technology Center, McFarland says shes still having a good time. I enjoy dealing with other peoples teenagers. The respect and everything is so much different than it is with your own kids. Still, her daughter was the SkillsUSA state president for a total of four years.
Out-of-town students have stayed at the McFarland house in Wahpeton during their state conference, and there are reports that when her SkillsUSA members are staying in a hotel, the health instructor sits up in the hallway all night.
Like Ron McGuire, advisor Mike Howard made the leap into teaching after receiving a call from one of his former instructors. A position had opened up at the same school, and if I could, he wanted me to apply for it, Howard says. This man was such a big difference in my life. Although Howard was happy with his industry job, he took on the teaching position as a challenge to himself, to see if I could do it and be as successful at it as he did it, and also to make a difference in peoples lives.
Fifteen years later, as a drafting instructor at Griffin (Ga.) Technical College, hes a firm believer in making sure you get the work done and you get it done right the first time. But then you also have to have fun, because if youre not having fun with what you do, why are you doing it?
Fulfillment and fun: the best rewards.
SkillsUSA Champions | Fall 2004 | Volume 39, No. 1