Casey Strahler was hired on March 31 to fill his dream position as a masonry instructor for the Washington County Career Center.
He shadowed masonry instructor Mike Davis during his first week on the job. Then, Davis retired and Strahler filled in as a full-time substitute until May 26.
After graduating from the Career Center in 2004, Strahler starting working for Ken Strahler Masonry (no relation).
"I learned a lot from him," noted Strahler. "The truck said Ken Strahler Masonry but we did just about everything."
Strahler said he did a questionnaire during middle school that helped him pick a career choice. The questionnaire results suggested teaching.
"It's funny how everything comes together," he said.
Family: Wife, Alicia; child, Gavin, 15 months.
Occupation: Masonry instructor for the Washington County Career Center.
Question: Working at the Career Center was not a spur-of-the-moment decision for you, was it?
Answer: I graduated from the Washington County Career Center in 2004. I always thought I'd like a chance to pass on my trade to somebody else. ...I judged masonry competitions for Mike Davis. I made it a point to go to all the Career Center's open houses held in April. I'd talk to the Career Center's directors and superintendents. I told them I'd like a shot to take on teaching masonry if it ever came up. I always had an idea I'd be here.
Q: What led you to enroll at the Career Center in 2002?
A: I came up for sophomore visitation in 2002. I was looking at welding, auto collision and masonry. My dad had always recommended that I look into masonry. When I came into this class (at visitation), Mike Davis had students working out in the lab. He allowed me to pick up a trowel and play in some mortar. From there I just liked it.
Q: What made you want to come back?
A: The Washington County Career Center is unique in the fact our building trades' classes are all segregated. I wanted to teach in that environment. Most career centers are all in one-you take a semester of masonry, one of carpentry and another of electricity. I think that students learn better having the classes separated. At the Career Center we have more programs in their individual skill sets. You get more time with the individual field of masonry. Also, it is good that it is a two-year program so you really learn a good basic knowledge of masonry.
Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?
A: The idea of being remembered, of having some sort of a legacy and passing it on to somebody else. When I laid brick on my projects and brick walls, (I knew they would) pass the test of time when I'm gone. It's funny to be talking about legacy when I'm only 27 years old but it is important to me.
Q: What's the biggest difference between what you learned as a student and what you're teaching your students now?
A: The biggest difference is that times have changed and the way we do things has changed. With technology, I feel like I need to bring more of it into the classroom to illustrate my points. In a licensing program I'm going through, we use a "smart board" that uses a projector to project an image on a wall. You can touch the wall, and the projector knows what you've done. You can access the Internet by touching icons projected on the wall.
There are new tools out there. We have a wet saw in the masonry lab that is used to keep dust down. Now there's a saw with a vacuum system on it, that cuts efficiently too. As long as we're staying up with new technology, I think masonry work will become easier and more enjoyable.
Sharon Bopp conducted this interview.