Budget issues have prompted many school districts to cut their shop classes.
Foley, MN, isn’t one of them.
The district broke ground at the beginning of October on a new, 4,000 sq. ft. building for industrial technology courses.
Foley High School has three full-time industrial tech teachers, each with a particular focus on courses like woodworking, drafting, auto repair, welding, electronics, construction and robotics.
“We have a ton of support. We’re one of the few districts adding classes and staff,” says teacher Brian Kemmy. He’s worked at Foley High School for six years and says shop classes grow more popular every year.
“Kids just come to me and ask, “Can we work on my truck? Can we weld this?” Kemmy says. “It’s a welding class and they want to pull their truck up behind the shop and work on it. Things like that.”
Along with new classrooms, Kemmy says they’re adding a car hoist so students can perform oil changes and other maintenance tasks. They’ll have the tools they need to perform break jobs, safety inspections, body work, welding and cutting. They’re adding a diagnostic tool to the lineup.
Kemmy says many of his students pursue careers in the automotive world after they graduate.
“We have a lot of students going into diesel and auto body repair, taking classes at St. Cloud, (Technical & Community College) Alexandria Tech and CLC in Staples. We’re preparing them for that.”
In recent years, Kemmy says they’ve added a CNC plasma cutter and developed more computerized classes. Once the expansion is complete, they plan to offer more robust residential construction and advanced robotic courses.
“We’re trying to get everything that’s industry-standard so that we can prepare the kids, fresh out of high school, to know what they’re working with,” Kemmy says.
Teacher Dan Carlson says they work closely with area technical colleges and companies to design courses that prepare students for the labor market.
“There are plenty of jobs out there that go unfilled every year because of technology changes,” Carlson says. “You see people getting out of the workforce, retiring, and there’s no one coming in to fill those jobs. So, with trades, you can get a job anywhere you want, really.”