When Glenn Kay II began taking classes at Washtenaw Community College as a student welder back in 1995, he never imagined that 14 years later he’d become the college’s welding and fabrication department chair and full-time instructor.
Quite an accomplishment, but that wasn’t all. Kay was also named recently as Practical Welding Today’s PW (Practical Welding) Teacher of the Year for 2015.
“It’s a tremendous honor not only to be selected, but to have been nominated in the first place. It’s been quite a journey for me, but I did and do not travel it alone,” Kay said. “My fellow faculty members share my passion. We put our students first and are committed to building the welding workforce by producing highly skilled and employable welding professionals. To be recognized in such a way is a testament to those efforts and is humbling to say the least.”
Although Kay is thankful for the 2015 PWTeacher of the Year award he received last month, he said one of his biggest awards is being able to share his knowledge and experiences with students while getting to know each of them personally.
“The most rewarding aspect comes from working with our students and watching them develop their welding skills,” Kay said. “It’s an unbelievable transition for many and when the students return and tell you that your instruction has jumpstarted their welding career, that makes it all worth it. That was the main reason why I decided to come here and teach at WCC, to give students the ability to become successful and to give back to the welding industry and the community.”
In addition to the award, Kay is celebrating the $4.4 million grant that WCC received from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation through the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program. On top of that, WCC matched the grant at $2 million. That means students who are enrolled in the fall 2016 welding program will have the opportunity to experience new curriculum along with up-to-date, state-of-the-art equipment.
Moving forward, Kay hopes to continue inspiring his students while giving them the tools and skills they need to graduate from WCC and then be able to go out on their own and quickly gain employment.
“These are very lucrative, high-demand jobs,” he said. “Several employers are contacting us and offering to hire our students once they receive their training, so it’s a very successful career path. I like to convey to my students that hard work and dedication pays off.”