“One of the things I love most about the program I teach is that it easily allows for differentiated instruction. I am basically teaching four different professions so when a student finds themselves particularly interested in one field I try my best to help that student focus on that career path. The projects we do typically allow students to work at their own pace, mastering the skill they are working on before moving on to the next project.”
Randy Williamson has worked in the construction industry for much of his life, and has brought that knowledge into the classroom for the past 12 years as a construction trades instructor. He obtained a B.S. in Elementary Education from Bloomsburg University, but his passion always brought him back to building. He worked with his father in a general construction business full-time for 10 years, and many weekends of his childhood and teenage years prior to that. Williamson decided to become a trades teacher because he repeatedly heard from leaders in the construction industry that there were not enough skilled professionals in the community: “I saw the need for a quality program that could meet the needs of the local industry.”
His students learn how to work with wood, metal, glass, brick, and stone, among others, and develop skills in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, heating, electrical and painting. They also learn supporting skills that are essential to a successful career in construction: blueprint reading, cost estimating, the use of technical specifications and knowledge concerning the physical properties of materials.
Williamson has guided his students in building a modular house — from drawing up plans, to construction, electrical, plumbing and heating — and the home is now occupied in the local community. His class is currently constructing a “Tiny House” which will be auctioned later this year. Williamson’s class has competed 3 times in the student competition at the International Builders Show sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, taking home Rookie of the Year once, and 1st Place in 2015 and again in 2016.
The Construction Trades program at Williamsport has a strong, collaborative relationship with the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Through dual enrollment opportunities in both construction and academic areas, students are able to earn up to 24 college credits while still in high school.
Williamson was involved in the creation of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Program of Study for the construction trades, and in 2012, had his program endorsed by the Pennsylvania Builders Association. This certification allows his students to obtain industry credentials, and requires regular evaluation by industry professionals to maintain it. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a co-op program during their senior year, to gain valuable experience in the field of their chosen specialty.