Charles Shirley's 13 years of teaching include 11 at Carson High School. The welding teacher lives in Stagecoach with Sandy, his wife of 27 years, and twin daughters, Jessie and Jaimie, who turn 16 this month.
You started the welding program at Carson High School. How were you chosen for this position and do you think the program has added value to the school's curriculum?
I was recommended for this position by Bill Schultz from Carson Junior High (now Carson Middle School), who was offered the position and turned it down. He told (former principal) Glen Adair that I would be a good candidate. Welding is, without a doubt, an added value to CHS's curriculum. It offers students more variety in vocational education and there are many job opportunities available in today's industry.
In addition to gaining welding skills, what other life-enhancing qualities to students take from welding?
One thing welding teaches my students is learning to work together. Additionally, they acquire job skills along with pride in their accomplishments.
Three of your students will attend the Skills USA competition this month in Las Vegas. What challenges will they face?
These three students will need to perform in a new environment and under pressure against the top 20 high school welders in the state. The facility is very different from other high school or college facilities.
What do you think teachers offer to their students in addition to education?
Vocational teachers bring years of practical work experience to the classrooms where they teach. Teachers have their own style or personality and this helps them connect with each student in a different manner.
How many of your students have pursued careers in welding? Do they take advantage of the opportunities offered to them?
Several of my students have gone on to pursue careers and or certification in welding at Western Nevada Community College. Two years ago, one of my former Skills USA competitors enrolled and graduated from the underwater diving/welding school in Seattle. Many students take advantage of the vocational classes and pursue vocational careers.
Are their enough vocational classes offered to students? What is the future of vocational education at Carson High School?
No, there are not enough vocational classes in today's high schools. Not every student is geared to four years of college.
I think Carson High School's vocational program's future is bright. (Principal Fred) Perdomo and (Vice Principal Pat) Houlihan, along with our school district, understand the importance of vocational education. Hopefully, the Legislature will pass Assembly Bill AB48. This will help provide funding for vocational education.
What can the community do to support welding and other vocational programs?
The community can impress upon their elected officials the continued need to support vocational education.
Local businesses can continue to hire our graduates and provide them with the opportunity to contribute to the community while earning a living.