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Opinion - Opinion
North Platte needs another welding instructorTell North Platte what you think

Regarding the loss of a welding instructor Jason Reed at North Platte High (North Platte Bulletin, April 24) and the decision of the administration not to replace him, I feel compelled to reiterate my concerns over the Industrial Tech programs at North Platte High.

Yes, Jason Reed was an excellent welding instructor and will be missed. However, that is not the main concern of the patrons who attended the school board meeting.

The administration’s decision to not fill Mr. Reed’s position puts not only the welding department in jeopardy, but all other Industrial Tech programs. By forcing the existing Industrial Tech instructors to “fill in” in the absence of a welding instructor, the vital, low instructor-to-student ratio is compromised.

There are currently 737 students signed up for Industrial Tech classes in the fall of 2015. That is 45 more students than last year. During my time at North Platte High as an Industrial Tech student, we saw “student-to-instructor interface,” or the amount of time a student and instructor would spend one-on-one, as one of the biggest assets of NPHS’s industrial tech programs.

As a professional in my field of welding, and after consulting with my peers who are professionals in their industrial tech fields, we value how instrumental student-to-instructor interface was to our success, and wish this opportunity for our current Industrial Tech students.

Each one of the Industrial Tech instructors are professionals in their respective fields. They have the ability to convey a procedure of excellent technique to complete their craft. I have known these instructors for 35 years, as they were my mentors and are now very close friends.

Not one of these instructors possess the ability to weld proficiently enough to enhance a student’s ability to weld, as they will admit themselves. Unlike core curriculum classes, a “qualified” teacher in Industrial Tech classes requires much more than a teaching diploma to be an adequate instructor. Not only does the instructor have to understand textbook terminology, but he must also be able to demonstrate the procedure to a student.

It’s been proven over the ages that a journeyman teaches the apprentice.

Demand is high for well-educated techs in automotive, diesel, welding, and all aspects of building construction. Most of these students will be a marketable assets right out of North Platte High.

By depriving our Industrial Tech students of a professional welding instructor and forcing existing Industrial Tech instructors to “pick up the slack,” we are jeopardizing many students’ futures in the North Platte job market.

Up until this point, NPHS has supplied excellent welders to the North Platte job market. Our community needs their skills and employment, and without an adequately staffed Industrial Tech program, it is hard to tell if NPHS will continue to be so highly esteemed for our program.

I feel that by not filling the opening in the welding department, it is creating an injustice not only to the welding students, but all other students in the Industrial Tech program. I urge the administration to see the problem at hand for what it really is, a potential loss of NPHS’s legacy of excellent Industrial Tech program, as well as a lack of attention to its vital role in the North Platte community.

Bret Ludemann is the owner of Mid Nebraska Welding & Lineboring in North Platte and a member of NPHS Class of ’79.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 5/22/2014
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