“Through the welding program, the students have themselves discovered how to be teachers and to respect people of different educational levels, genders, and racial backgrounds. They have learned to switch roles with authority figures and have increased their level of patience and confidence. They also experience pride in themselves for mastering a specialized skill and passing it on to others. These students have a unique opportunity to put themselves in others’ shoes, recognizing and respecting that we all have different strengths.”
Kim Rosenbaum found welding when looking for a career that would allow a single parent to support two children. After 15 years rising in the industry, Rosenbaum discovered an even deeper passion in teaching welding to high school students. At Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, Indiana, where she has taught for the last seven years, Rosenbaum rebuilt the welding program, growing the shop from seven to 16 welding booths. With a focus on integrating welding and traditional technology, she secured a CNC cutter and 3D printer for the classroom. Rosenbaum also started the Twin Lakes robotics team and an after-school welding club. Her students compete regularly in local and regional competitions.
Rosenbaum has won numerous awards, including the American Welding Society’s Bob Richie Award, Indian Trails Teacher of the Year, and being named one of the Top 25 Teachers in Indiana in 2018. She has also focused on continuing her own education as the industry adapts, attending trade shows, professional development seminars, and developing CNC machining skills.
Her students use their welding talents to help their community in many ways. They have fixed fences and sea walls, created public art, and built a float for the lighted Christmas parade. The class accepts commissions from local businesses for custom fabricated designs. They also help teach the Women in Welding program, which Rosenbaum established to train female teachers and staff at her school — and now the greater community — in welding fundamentals. Students help teach an eighth grade summer program as well. “In our Women in Welding program, students become teachers and aides to our women in the community. There is no better way to master a skill than to teach it,” Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum regularly connects her students to industry, to explore career paths and deepen their understanding of evolving industry standards and practice. They visit local businesses to learn about apprenticeships, tour technical colleges, and meet with military recruiters to learn how technology is incorporated in each branch. Every other year, students attend FABTECH, a leading industry trade show, to meet with potential employers and learn about new technologies.
Rosenbaum’s students begin with welding fundamentals in their first year, and go on to seek American Welding Society certifications in their second and third years, with an eye towards future careers. Graduates of her program have gone on to work in the welding industry and beyond: as welders, millwrights, pipefitters, and technicians. Others have continued into the military or to college for a business focus. Rosenbaum focuses on “teaching with love,” and is committed to helping her students find their purpose in life.
“I love watching my students’ eyes light up with understanding as they master a skill. I know that these skills are so valuable not only to their future careers but also to their self-worth.”