Inspiring teacher honored by trade education group

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Inspiring teacher honored by trade education group

Lucia Tarantino

Lucia Tarantino

Lucia Tarantino

By Sarah Feustle and Sumin Woo

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Jamie Gaskin’s recent honor was no surprise to the students of the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning teacher.

“He cares about the students, not just about teaching, but making that connection to the student so they really care about the class and care about him,” junior Mike Ditzel said.

The Maryland Center of Construction Education and Innovation named the HVAC teacher an Everyday Hero on March 30. Gaskin was praised by the MCCEI for “working to fill Maryland’s talent development pipeline on a shoestring budget, fueled by passion.”

After 17 years of service in the Army, Gaskin felt he would execute more meaningful work by teaching HVAC skills to students.

“I wanted to do something that would make a difference,” Gaskin said. “I’ve always loved teaching, so I made the change, and haven’t looked back since.”

The HVAC program is the only one of its kind in the county, granting students 21 college credits- the highest given by a class.

“He sets up a pipeline from the work in here to an actual job,” sophomore Luke Bartholow said. “If you do the work right, you’ll get a good grade.”

HVAC offers numerous job opportunities, which Gaskin credits to trade occupations’ reputations. But Gaskin says that disdain for such careers, which require applied science and math skills, is unwarranted. He cites past students’ successes as vital to his passion for teaching and eliminating HVAC’s stigma. One such student, Alex Schech, earned enough money working with heating and air conditioning to buy his own house only a year after graduating.

Students say Gaskin is a father figure, addressing the needs of each student. His passion has rubbed off onto the HVAC students, who have spoken at PTA meetings, executed Live-on-5 commercials and worked on Saturday projects to improve working spaces.

“Some of us, we don’t think we can do this stuff. I didn’t think I could build my shelf, and he just showed me step by step and I ended up building a few shelves,” sophomore Eythan Ferdinand said. “You just have to have the right teacher show you what to do.”