Barry Wilson has taught at Kennedy High School for 44 years. Actually, every day he still sits at his original desk.
He now teaches Career Tech Ed, an updated title to what was once called Industrial Arts. Career Tech remains focused on skills associated with welding, auto mechanics, woodworking, and manufacturing.
“The importance of what I am teaching right now is there are a lot of job opportunities for skilled tradespeople,” said Barry Wilson.
Throughout Wilson’s teaching career, he has worked to keep Kennedy High School involved in introducing students to the skilled trades.
“It’s a neat deal,” Wilson said. “I can introduce students to the intro concepts of the trades and students then can figure out if these skills and concepts fit their style.” If the shoe fits, so to speak, then the student can further that skill by attending the Kirkwood Regional Center while still in high school. At the Kirkwood Regional Center, students can earn certifications in manufacturing, welding, or construction which would mean they could immediately seek a career in their field.
“They can then use that skill to pay for—if they choose to go to college—to pay for college without borrowing any money,” he said. “Do what you like and get the education that you want.”
Barry takes pride in the fact that Kennedy High School has the only manufacturing program and intro to welding class in the Cedar Rapids Community School District.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the electric car program at Kennedy. The current electric car team recently held a dinner and invited back all the graduates from the program. Barry stood at the door and greeted each attendee. He recalls, “When these students come back and they have found what they like to do and they are successful at what they are doing and they are able to live a comfortable living doing it, that is what makes what I do exciting.”