With the department undergoing several changes during the past few years, Principal Russ Hesler made it a priority to get the department back on track, bringing in former North Putnam teacher David Basan to oversee the department.
Last year, due to unforeseen circumstances only three classes were offered throughout the school year. Under Basan's leadership the number of class offerings has now gone up to seven, which include construction systems, introduction to engineering and design and principles of engineering.
"I think in most high schools around they're down sizing all the industrial tech areas," explained Hesler. "What happened last year was one of my teachers took a job in a local industry. So I luckily found a woman from Indiana State University that wanted to come here and teach a half-day. They did a nice job, but numbers were down. The students weren't signing up for the classes. We eventually got our numbers up so we could do a full day of classes. Two weeks before school was to start, her old high school, had a job opening and she took it."
And although numbers in various school districts are declining in the industrial technology department, Hesler, a former teacher of wood-working and drafting, believed that it was of the utmost importance to offer students different types of electives.
"I think that post secondary education is very important, but not all kids have to go to college. They can go to a hands-on technical institute and sometimes make as much or more money or a vocational school such as Area 30," Hesler explained. "We've got a lot of stuff to offer. We're all different types of learners. Sometimes those elective classes struggle for numbers, but a lot of kids some times are artistic and some kids need those types of things in their life. It gives a kid a chance to think in a different way or experience some life skills.
"Teaching kids how to do things and to problem solve is very important. There's so many times we spoon feed kids answers and I think you need to learn how to fix things, take things apart and put them back together. I always try to think of ways to get kids to believe in themselves. With this department the students buy in. They build their projects and they're proud of them."
With both Hesler and Basan having the same ideology, catering to those students who enjoy a more hands-on curriculum, the department is off to a strong start.
"I was at North Putnam High School for five years," Basan explained. "This is an opportunity I jumped at. Mr. Hesler obviously believes in it. I too believe that there's a need for these trades in our community right now."
With the support of the administration behind him, Basan has big goals for the department, with a main focus of helping those non-traditional students.
"This program is important for those kids who may want to go toward more of a trade school," Basan said. "This program (construction systems) helps build those tools to go into the workforce right away. They really enjoy working with their hands. Going to the next level of school isn't for everyone. Some of them probably are not going to move away, but there is a need for these trades.
"There are some talented kids here. These kids need to have the education in the trades to be able to go out and be productive in our community."
Basan made note that all programs that he instructs go hand-in-hand with other important subjects, including mathematics and writing.
"They need to be able to do such things as add, subtract and figure out angles," Basan explained. "Writing is also important as they need to be able to communicate through plans and directions."
As in the past, Basan hopes to run the department like a business, to help fund future projects and improve the schools campus. As well as doing such things as auctioning off handmade corn hole sets during events like homecoming.
"We would like to run this as a business," explained Basan. "We would like to improve things around the school."
In previous years, the industrial technology department has done such things as building the baseball and softball dugouts as well as the softball scoring tower.
In Basan's grand plan for the department, he aims to improve such things as the school's courtyard as well as creating a nature trail with benches, tables and an observation deck on the hill.
"For them to do some quality work we need some quality materials," Basan said. "If we could just get some help with some fairly nice materials or funding. A lot of our hand tools are very old. It'd be nice to get them updated."
Both Hesler and Basan noted that departments such as this struggle due to lack of funding.
"I haven't had a whole lot of time to evaluate what we have. I just know we don't have a lot." Basan said. "We would like any help we can get for materials or some updates on our equipment. It's all going to go back to the school, with us working on the courtyard and the nature trail.
"I just want the kids to come in and not worry about if we're going to have materials, if the band saw is going to be broke or if the table saw blade is out. They shouldn't have to worry about those things."
To donate to the department materials can be dropped off at the high school or checks can be made out to GHS Technology Education Department.
For more information contact Basan at 653-9711 ext. 238 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.