Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive June 2017 Show 1723 Coach in the Classroom

Coach in the Classroom

Southern Tech’s carpentry and construction instructor Robby Adams provides his student builders with real-world experience.
Coach in the Classroom

Coach in the Classroom

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CareerTech - Making It Work

Southern Oklahoma Technology Center


Show Details

Show 1723: Coach in the Classroom
Air Date: June 4, 2017



Rob McClendon: Well, some of the best coaches are not always on the playing field but in the classroom. In our continuing look at Making It Work Day at the state Capitol, we meet Robby Adams, a carpentry and construction instructor at Southern Tech.

Blane Singletary: In Robby Adams’ carpentry and construction class at Southern Tech in Ardmore, the excitement is always building.

Robby Adams: I want to make sure they’re ready to go to work as soon as they leave the program, and so we focus on the house. The house is our project, and it encompasses just all the aspects of the building process.

Blane: This class project provides strong, real-world experience for these aspiring builders. In fact, Robby says that’s what puts it far beyond a mere class project.

Adams: I tell the students from day one we’re building someone a home, and so we want to make sure we do the very best we can, take pride in the work we do, and eventually, you’ll get to drive down the road and show your kids and grandkids the house that you built when you were at Southern Tech.

Blane: Another thing you may notice about Mr. Adams’ class is that it’s diverse, with a lot of students you wouldn’t traditionally see taking up this trade.

Adams: About 20 percent of my class this year is female students. All my students are a little bit different. They’re all different. None of them are the same. They’re all unique.

Blane: And Adams says it’s a challenge to find out not just how to build up this home, but how to build up these students as well.

Adams: My philosophy is every student who walks through that door is here to learn how to build a house, and it’s my job, whatever baggage they bring with them, it’s my job to sift through there, get them the training they need -- be their friend, be their mentor, whatever I have to do to break down them walls so we can get ‘em out here in the shop.

Blane: Robby has three main things he focuses on to get the most out of his students. He strives for a safe, supportive work environment, listens to his students and cheers them on.

Adams: They want a place they can learn free from threat. So I make sure that my classroom, my environment, my shop area, my house areas, everybody works together – there’s no poking, no teasing, sarcasm. The second thing is, is every student has a story to tell you, and you just need to take the time to listen. And I listen to ‘em, and I visit with them, and I try to get to know them in the little bit of period of time I get with them. And then the last thing is, I’m their cheerleader. I wanna motivate them. A lot of times I’ll have students that do really great work but they just don’t think they’re quite ready or good enough to go out in the workforce. I wanna make sure when they leave my program, they are confident in what they can do with their skills that they are able to go to work and get a job in the construction industry.

Blane: And even in this short time, Mr. Adams has taken them to places some of these students never thought they’d ever be.

Claudia Corona: This is something that I never thought possible, honestly.

Blane: Claudia Corona is what many would consider a nontraditional student, but despite this, she’s found ways to rise to the challenge.

Corona: It’s a quick, it’s a fast-paced class. But definitely once we finished the first house we feel more confident that we could do anything, and now we’re actually building the second house that will be completed, you know, at the end of the next school year.

Blane: And that confidence has led her to believe that which may make her different than many of her peers, makes her stronger.

Corona: Being Hispanic, being bilingual, any type of career is a great opportunity to us because there is so much need for bilingual and nontraditional students. Besides I’m a female so this type of career was something that probably people wouldn’t think that it is possible for us. I’ve seen it more than challenging, I think I’ve seen it more as exciting.

Blane: Claudia says the main challenge she faced was that at age 42, her high school days are far behind her. She even has a son that’s the same age as many of her classmates. However, she had plenty of help to get past those differences.

Corona: They actually helped me, my son helped me, the teacher helped me a lot, you know, with understanding and put more to practice all of that.

Blane: In Mr. Adams’ eyes, all of his students are nontraditional in their own way, and it’s his job to foster the passion in each of them.

Adams: Claudia is a unique individual. I really think she’s a lot like me – she’s a lifelong learner, and she really enjoys what she does. She loves working with wood. She loves building cabinets. So I think if you have a passion for what you’re doing and wanting to learn, I think there’s less of an obstacle to overcome. And by the end of next year, she’s gonna be ready to go to work, absolutely.

Blane: What Claudia and the other students we talked to agree upon, it’s that you shouldn’t let what makes you different keep you from what you want to do.

Corona: Anybody can do it. If I can do it at 42 years of age, anybody can do it. So I wish everybody will really think that it’s possible that they can definitely apply and get the help and assistance to be able to succeed on whatever they like.

Adams: You take a bunch of high school kids that’s never picked up a hammer, and they built that house that’s sitting outside, and it’s just, to me, that’s just amazing. I just start preaching from day one, we want to be accurate, we want it to look good, and we want to make sure the craftsmanship shows in your work. Let’s pretend you’re not a bunch of high school kids that’s never picked up a hammer or used a saw, and let’s pretend that we’re seasoned carpenters as we’re building this house, and it actually kinda, it works.