In the 2019-2020 school year, the R-80 Construction Trades Program, led by instructor, A.J. Tinker, will be renovating the Fleming Variety store building on 4th street. The renovation project will involve nearly all aspects of construction – including plumbing, electric, drywall, flooring, ceilings, lighting, roofing and painting. Recently purchased by the Dragonfly Wings foundation, the building will become a nonprofit retail store with all proceeds benefiting teachers and educational programs in Salem.
Congratulations to Salem High School Junior, Dell Hoffmeister, for winning the State Championship in SkillsUSA Carpentry by 125 points. Dell will compete in the National Championship Competition in Louisville, Kentucky in June. Dell is a student in the new Construction Trades Program which only began in September 2018.
More than 2,300 career and technical education students from high schools and colleges across the state competed at SkillsUSA Missouri’s State Leadership and Skills Conference, April 4-6, at State Technical College of Missouri in Linn. The students participated in more than 150 contests.
“These students are demonstrating more than just their technical skills; they are showing they also have the workplace and personal skills needed for career success,” said Joey Baker, state executive director of SkillsUSA Missouri. “We are proud of this talented group of students for their dedication to excellence in their trades.”
During the competition, students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations – such as carpentry, information technology, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, welding, automotive service, nursing, culinary arts and more. The contests are conducted with the help of industry experts, trade associations and labor organizations. The competitions test competencies that are set by professional industry standards.
The winners will go on to compete in the national SkillsUSA Championships this June in Louisville, Ky.
The SkillsUSA Championships are competitive events showcasing the best career and technical education students in the nation. Contests begin locally and continue through the state and national levels.
Through an investment from business and industry partners of approximately $36 million, the event occupies a space equivalent to 20 football fields. In 2018, there were more than 6,500 contestants in 103 separate events. Nearly 2,000 judges and contest organizers from labor and management make the national event possible.
The philosophy of the Championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.
Salem High School Construction Trades students started practicing early for the Skills USA district contest that was held on Feb. 22nd.
Instructor, A.J. Tinker, held an in-house contest because, while four students were interested in competing, only two students could attend the contest. He asked the students how often they wanted to practice and they said they wanted to practice 2-3 times a week. In addition, the students even came in on a Saturday to practice. They practiced for 2-4 hours in the evenings after school, and they came in to practice on days that school was not in session due to snow. And it paid off.
“They really put the time in and wanted to be ready,” said Mr. Tinker. “ The day of the contest I could not have been more proud of the two students selected to compete. They had a good day and it showed.”
There were 12 contestants from different schools, but only five students out of the 12 actually finished the project. Salem High School Construction Trades Program students were two of the five. Dell Hoffmeister, a junior in the program, placed first in the skills contest. Jay Busbey, a senior in the program, placed 3rd in the written contest. The Skills USA District Written Contest was held in January, with seven schools in the district competing. Districts can send as many students as they want out of each program to take the written contest, and, this year, there were 75 students in the contest.
Both Dell and Jay will compete in the Skills USA state contest that will be held April 4-6 at Linn Tech in Linn, Missouri.
Construction Trades Program Looking at Projects Now.
Salem High School’s still-developing Construction Trades Program is looking for a few local projects, and that could be good news for you.
The program incubated a year ago, and this semester, in its first year, there are 22 students signed up, according to SHS principal Marty Anderson. Organizers originally hoped for six students, hoping it would grow to 30 in five years.
The good news for some of you is this: If you are within the Salem city limits, for the cost of materials and a 20 percent equipment fee (based on cost of materials with a $200 minimum fee), you can have the Construction Trades Program complete a project at your home. There is no charge for labor. Submit Your Project
The program utilizes existing community housing to not only provide students the opportunity to apply learned technical skills and create post-secondary pipelines for education and employment options, but to accomplish this by revitalizing the local housing market through their projects.
“We need our community to support our efforts,” Anderson said. “We need jobs for our students to learn these skills. This is a huge win-win for our community and our students.”
Projects are limited only by your imagination. The training program provides students with creative and technical skills to gain real-life, hands-on experience through classroom and on-the-job training. Projects that can be undertaken by the students include:
• rough and finished carpentry
• rough and finished plumbing
That covers a lot of construction territory. The students work under the direction of first-year instructor A.J. Tinker and hope to take on two to three projects per semester. Growing up in Cook Station, Tinker attended high school in Steelville and spent his junior and senior years in the construction trades program at Rolla Technical Institute. Additionally, he spent the last 18 years teaching at Rolla Technical Institute. He also spent seven and a half years in the private construction field.
Salem R-80 is partnering with local businesses and community leaders to offer the Construction Trades Program for junior and senior students.
“In an effort to fill the skills gap in the construction trades, this partnership has emerged to overcome the challenges our community faces and achieve shared goals,” according to the program’s website (r80ctp.org). The program, funded with private donations made through the Dent County Community Foundation, addresses several challenges facing the community – including lack of a current labor pool, a worker skills gap, an aging workforce and a lack of a talent for area construction.
In the process, another challenge is addressed, and that is the deteriorating condition of housing in the community. Students who need experience and houses that need repair are the perfect combination.
However, since the construction project also serves as a classroom project it cannot have a hard deadline, according to Anderson. “In other words, if the owner must have the project completed on a deadline this will not be the way to go,” he said. “Our program must take time to teach our students along the way of constructing the project. Typically, we are within a month of our projected deadline.”
Positions for construction trades will grow by eight percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That includes Dent County, where the program hopes to address several challenges facing the community’s labor pool, including a worker skills gap, aging workforce and lack of a talent pipeline for area construction, according to the website.
“Our students will go to work out of high school starting at $25 per hour or continue their training at no cost to them,” Anderson said. “The future is bright for our Construction Trades Program students.”
The CTP advisory council includes Anderson; Tinker; Wes Hester, CEO, Foxhole Technology, Inc.; R.J. Catizon, Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program/instructor; Wes Showalter, Missouri S&T University professor; Todd Parks, general contractor; Mike Wilson, general carpentry in Salem area; Dustin Howard, vice president, Bank of Salem; Janece Martin, director of Rolla Technical Institute, Rolla (retired); Bob Parsons, agriculture education instructor (retired); Alex Sellers, Dent County Community Foundation board member.
“The students in the construction trades program not only get to learn a trade that they can take with them and use for the rest of their life, but they get to be part of building and or renovating a building in the Salem area,” Tinker said. “They also take great pride in the projects that they work on. I’ve had students already take friends and family by our projects and show them what they have been doing in the program.”
To submit a construction project for consideration by the SHS Construction Trades Program, submit your name, contact information and a brief description of the project via an online form that can be found at www.r80ctp.org/submit-project. Hard-copy forms are available at The Salem News and Salem R-80 High School office and can be turned in to the high school. Your project will be considered based on the start date, time line for completion and student requirements during that time line. For more information contact instructor A.J. Tinker at email@example.com. All projects will be considered by the Construction Trades Advisory Council.
Salem High School will soon be home to a new program that has the potential to advance its students, as well as the community around it.
In mid-November, an idea was pitched for a construction trades program to be implemented in the school, a unique experience that would give students hands-on learning for construction, but with the added bonus of improving Salem and Dent County as projects are completed.
Speaking with Marty Anderson, principal of Salem High School, he explained how the program initially became an idea that he wanted to pursue.
“Over the last two years I’ve been working with a group called GRO (Growth of the Rural Ozarks),” Anderson said, “It’s an economic development committee. One of the things we found out through our data was that revitalizing properties in this area is one of the primary issues. When you drive by and you’re from out of town, it just doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth.”
These properties can be anywhere from abandoned lots to derelict structures and properties that need general maintenance to appeal to a wider community. Anderson talked about how a potential donor was interested in funding something that provided two things: a program that would equip the students with career-technical skills, and something that would revitalize the infrastructure of the community.
“What that person was describing to me was a construction program,” Anderson explained, “I knew this program would also bridge what GRO was looking at.”
Many students from SHS are already interested in technical careers and programs. Currently, 40 students go to Rolla Technical Institute every day for job training, four of which are involved solely in construction. Anderson explains that while the program is wonderful, the students who work on job sites in Rolla are only improving Rolla, not their own town. He also understands concerns for wanting to start a program with so few students interested.
“If you only have four kids, how can you justify a program for that?” Anderson asked, “Well, in my experience when kids are exposed to it in their community, and see and hear of the project it creates skin in the game. You will see the numbers escalate.”
The general curriculum for the proposed program is fairly linear as you go through the high school curriculum. A first-year student would have a one-hour block of time where they learn general safety practices, and obtain any certifications they need through OSHA. A second-year student would have a two-hour block, which is where they begin to apply those techniques in the field, and begin to assimilate to the skills they have learned. In the third year, three hours will be dedicated to completing projects in the area with all the skills they have learned. Anderson explained how it would all come to a head in their final year of high school.
“We want them to do an apprenticeship,” Anderson said, “We want to do something where they are on the job. Post-secondary we want to have opportunities that employers are coming by and talking to the kids. We also want to set things up with the St. Louis Carpenter’s Union and technical schools for their (future education). We would create a pool for local, regional and state-wide employment in the construction area.”
The program had its first open meeting to discuss progress and ideas Dec. 12. A tight schedule of events has been followed to this point, and progression toward the fully-fledged program seems to be within reach, Anderson said. He predicts that the first wave of this program will begin in the new school year, August of 2018. Will seeing students working hard to improve their town of Salem push the infrastructure forward? Anderson believes it will.
“If you can get a buzz going in the community, you’ll start to see people getting active, and it spreads,” he said. “This is a catalyst for this community.”