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2018 HFTFS Prize for Teaching Excellence Winner

Andrew J. Neumann

Building Trades

Bay Arenac Intermediate School District Career Center, MI

“As a Building Trades teacher I do demand my students call me Dr. Neumann but after seeing my professionalism and commitment to them students decide to call me Dr. Neumann on their own. I will answer respectfully to most anything but the fact that I went from pounding nails to earning a Doctorate degree and still stay in the trades I believe conveys to my students and their parents that this is a very honorable profession and just because they work in a trade does not mean they can’t attend college and have choices on a career pathway.”

Dr. Andrew J. Neumann combines vast experience in the construction trades with exceptional academic preparation to offer his Bay City, Michigan students holistic skilled trades learning, experimentation and practice. He has taught the building trades program at his alma mater, the Bay Arenac Intermediate School District Career Center, for more than two decades, teaching the coursework that so engaged him there as a high school senior. He has also taught building trades at his community college alma mater.

A fourth generation carpenter, Neumann joined the teaching corps following a four year apprenticeship in carpentry and 8 years as a licensed carpenter, where he and his team constructed homes, malls and large-scale projects at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. With multiple professional certifications, including building inspector, plan reviewer, LEED Associate and NAHB Certified Green Professional, Newmann is likewise an accomplished academician, having achieved a Bachelors of Business Administration from Northwood University, an MA and Specialist in Education (EdS) from Saginaw Valley State, and an EdD (doctorate degree) from Central Michigan University. Sharing his experience statewide, he was selected to head the Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council, and is a member of the Associated General Contractors Workforce Development Committee and the Michigan Career Pathway Alliance.

Neumann links the classroom with career pathways and tradespeople from the outset, working directly through relationships he has built with regional contractors and labor organizations to connect his students to training, testing and soft skills for job preparation and interviews. The SkillsUSA chapter he founded and advises at the school provides yet another way for students to demonstrate their abilities, and they are considerable: his students have won a first place in at least one skilled trades category in the national SkillsUSA competition for each of the last 20 years.

As a capstone project, Neumann’s high school seniors annually design, build and market a new $250,000 home from the ground up. This significant, complex and multi-phased undertaking gives students the opportunity to learn and practice different facets of the skilled trades, figure out which one is most appealing to them, and build critical management and professional skills. His students learn not just construction technique, but a vast array of job skills and requirements, including attendance, work ethic, teamwork, mutual respect and accountability, how to work in public on a high profile project, and in all weather conditions. Just as in their internships, they learn from the licensed contractors who install the HVAC, heating and plumbing at the new house.

“This ability to work with my hands, follow my heritage and pass it along to hundreds of students and my son is priceless. Most of the young 20-40 year old builders in the Bay Area, and several of the superintendents for the local contractors are previous students of mine. When you’re able to take a young man or lady who is not sure of what they want to do in life and maybe has not had a tremendous amount of academic success and put them onto a path to make great money, health benefits and retirement is very rewarding.”