Thirteen adult students participating in a carpentry class at the Shelby County College and Career Center graduated and earned certificates during a special graduation ceremony held on November 19. The class was sponsored by the Home Builders Assocation of Alabama, along with Shelby County’s Career Technical and Community Education Departments. The cost of the class and materials was completely underwritten by the Home Builders Assocation of Alabama and was free to the students who participated. It was taught by Tom Edwards, Construction Technology Instructor for the College and Career Center.
Artemis Moore, director of the the Alabama Home Builders Foundation; Taylor Burton, president of the Home Builders Association of Alabama, and Benny Pritchett, Field Representative and former president of the Home Builders Assocation of Alabama, attended the event and awarded certificates to those who completed the course. They also surprised the students with a new tool belt for each of them.
“Having this certificate with the Homebuilders Assocation of Alabama name on it will help open doors for you,” Burton told the classmembers.
The students each shared their individual reasons for taking the class and what they had learned. A few of the students were already in construction fields, but said they still learned a lot from taking the course. Others who had no prior experience said they also benefitted greatly from taking the course.
“This class has been awesome for me,” said Eddie Guerrero. “I have been around construction my whole life, but I still learned a lot from this class. It has also opened some new doors for me.”
Robert Lawley shared that he also had prior construction knowledge. But, the class not only helped him, it also opened a new job opportunity for him working with the same construction company as Guerrero.
Hetti Wagner, the only female student, said she wants to build a small house on a piece of property she owns and wanted to have some basic skills that would allow her to do some of the work herself. Wagner, who works as the Social Service Director at Shelby Emergency Assistance said she also wanted to set an example for her clients about learning new skills that would enable them to find jobs.
“As a social worker, I want to show my clients that they could also do something like this,” Wagner said.
Craig Moncus described himself as a project manager who sits behind a desk all day, lacking the confidence to attempt any type of carpentry project.
“Now I have the confidence to build something,” he said. “Before I would not have had the confidence to even try. I loved this class and now I feel that I have the skills needed to at least do carpentry as a hobby.”
Dave Ellis works in apartment management and said the skills learned in the class will help him at his job.
“We are about to build some new apartments and I wanted to have some basic skills to be able to be on the construction site and know a little bit about what was happening,” he said. “I also feel that I will be able to help out with some basic repairs to our apartment units.”
Moore shared with the students about scholarships available through the Homebuilders Assocation of Alabama for any of them who might want to pursue college classes in the carpentry or construction industry. That news was welcomed by a couple of students who said they would like to seek additional creditials to help with employability skills.
“The project-based, hands-on experience that we got in this class was tremendous,” said Torial Jackson. “Hearing about the scholarships is also great because I want to pursue a career in construction engineering. Offering this class for free was a tremendous opportunity for adults who are hungry to learn a skill to add to our resumes.”
Edwards thanked the students and told them it had been a pleasure working with them.
“I work with teenagers around power tools all day,” Edwards joked. “So working with you adults was a nice change of pace.”
The students who completed the class were: Blake Berry, Eddie Guerrero, Tommy Robershaw, Zach Talley, Robert Lawley, Torail Jackson, Dave Ellis, Larry Mosher, Ryan Stevens, Kyle Glover, Craig Moncus, Nathan Triplett, and Hettie Wagner