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2018 HFTFS Prize for Teaching Excellence Winner

Charles J. Kachmar

Metals and Welding

Maxwell High School of Technology, GA

“It is all about showing students the doors to a future. That is my love. And I have never been so completely fulfilled in my profession as I am as a welding instructor.”

Charles J. Kachmar has been a teacher for 23 years. He has taught metals and welding at Maxwell High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia since 2012, rebuilding and revitalizing its program to reach capacity, grow demand, add college dual enrollment, and engage a robust advisor circle of 17 members and 25 organizations. He has rejuvenated a struggling program to become the top class choice for students, preparing welding students to graduate from high school ready for the wealth of opportunities ahead.

Coming from a family of teachers, he ultimately found his way to teaching after many years in industry as a marine insurance underwriter for a wide range of goods, including ocean cargo and vessels, bridges, tunnels and dams. Building on the BS in Engineering Technology he earned from Central Connecticut State University, Kachmar became an engineering teacher in 1995. During that time, working closely with students, he developed a curriculum that is still widely utilized. He went on to earn an M.Ed in Technological Studies and and Ed.S in Workforce development from the University of Georgia in 2009.

Kachmar built his program on the conviction that technical educators must be inventive pioneers, that the curriculum be relevant, robust and with authentic assessments; students must see real outcomes and employers must take personal interest in them. His strong program directly aligns with expectations for post-graduate choices for college, technical school, the military, apprenticeships or a job, as well as with multiple community colleges for dual enrollment credit. He has developed for his students extensive guided experimentation with both theories and methods to achieve proper weld outputs, student peer review and teamwork, and extended practice with industry and labor partners to develop and hone students’ soft skills. Kachmar believes that the image and perception of welding has changed at Maxwell from a last resort to the most popular class in school due to the focus on standards and opportunities available to students. By adding dual enrollment criteria and standards to the coursework, and in advertising the program’s deep connection to Gwinnett Technical College, Kachmar has brought welding’s path of opportunity into focus for his students.

Kachmar brings high expectations, enthusiasm and care for his pupils throughout the year, especially those dealing with family and housing challenges. The students give back by building beds for local homeless women and children in need of emergency shelter. One of the highlights of Kachmar’s program is the “Welding War,” where new and more experienced students join together in a team of four in a spirited contest. The more proficient welders teach the development welders, and the winning team gets the Maxwell Gold Helmet. It is a major source of pride, creativity, and collaboration for their program and for all involved. When the time comes to announce where students will go on to school or employment, Kachmar hosts an announcement ceremony and signing, just as college bound athletes do.

“I love making lasting partnerships with students, parents, and industry leaders. The students become my forever kids. I keep in touch with a majority of them through social media to follow their personal growth…Their success is what gets me excited.”