There are several local places you may have met Nick Rodriguez, as he previously worked at the Hawthorne Safeway in the meat department or you may have seen him in last year’s Armed Forces parade driving his celery-yellow 1955 Studebaker truck with his wife Diane at his side. And yet it’s his current position that is truly making a difference within the community.
Rodriguez never saw himself as a teacher or a mentor, even though he ran a large cement contracting business in California, relocating to Mineral County from Porterville following a 35-year career in the building industry. Settling into this rural Nevada community for his retirement years was the original plan. His son lived in Hawthorne and family was a predominant decision maker but once adjusted to the area, Rodriguez was restless to occupy his time with work again.
As a first year teacher at Mineral County High School, Rodriguez found a new challenge, as he was able to dust off the old shop equipment, rearrange the stations and utilize the existing tools so this career building class of construction education could make a comeback.
“The shop is actually a pretty good one, with adequate machines and valid resources to teach classes in the basic skills needed to either get a job or use for their own homes someday. We have done segments on basic plumbing, electric, air and heating, sheetrock, roofing and structuring a foundation. It’s been awhile since the shop was open, but we’ve had a good response, so I see the classes growing.”
Rodriquez stated that this first year has been a pioneering experience, as he met the students for the first time and many kids didn’t take shop class because it wasn’t a core subject. With 11 students excited about the materials, which had a hands-on approach, the classes for next year will obviously grow. Parents are now more aware of the courses offered, which are molded around “job friendly” outcomes that can appeal to the student unsure of their college futures.
With the first year of this particular Career Training Education (CTE) in Construction Technology almost completed, Rodriguez is positive about the future classes and the students experiencing everything the high school offers. “There are so many opportunities at our school, which is surprising for such a small town atmosphere. If a student wants to begin their career skills in high school it’s here for them.”