Teaching Our Craft, One Student At a Time

Teaching Our Craft, One Student At a Time

National Masonry Instructors Association

Nearly 30 years ago, the National Masonry Instructors Association(NMIA) was formed to unify the masonry instructors across the country with up to date industry training standards. Today the NMIA is supported by school teachers, apprentice trainers, post-secondary instructors, and industry professionals who offer their time and services to assist in the growth and maturity of the masons in today’s construction industry. As an ongoing effort to support the industry, Mortar Net Solutions is reaching out to contractors and suppliers to inform them of the benefits of this organization and solicit industry sponsorship and support for the workforce of today as well as tomorrow. This article is dedicated to promoting the National Masonry Instructors Association and to invite apprentice instructors, trainers, teachers and association leaders to attend the summer conference next July. The organization is strong, but will only get stronger with more participation from folks who train from around the country. Round table discussions allow the teachers to opportunities to learn beyond the scheduled program topics. The conference is family friendly with local attractions within walking distance from the conference and can serve as a family vacation while allowing you to obtain continuing education units.

This year NMIA has partnered with the Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and we are joining forces to better promote the training that will be offered during the summer 2018 conference. The conference, held in Orange Beach, Alabama is an event that includes speakers from many different parts of the masonry industry. The conference is a two and half days of presentations by a variety of industry professionals.

This year we had a presentation that was beneficial to the teachers in the classroom as well as interesting field topics. Patty Brid, from The National Center for Continued Education and Research (NCCER) discussed the resources that could be utilized by the instructors to simplify paperwork and administering level completion tests. Saving time in the classroom and offering more services to both the student and instructor allows for more time learning to use the trowel. Al Herndon of the Florida Masonry Apprentice & Education Foundation (FMAEF) spoke to the attendees regarding the requirements for registered apprenticeship programs in Florida as well as registered apprenticeship programs throughout the country He ask the instructors to find their state apprenticeship offices and invite their representatives to tour their schools. Al also spoke on what FMAEF was doing in Florida and how they were working with the newly formed Florida Concrete and Masonry Education Council (FCMEC). The FCMEC was established when the Masonry industry in Florida got a Check-Off approved by the Florida State Legislator and this Council receives a one penny a block for all blocks made in Florida. Monies collected from this Check-Off is being used to assist in the education of the masonry trade and educational programs for architect and engineers and Promotion of the masonry industry in Florida

Curtis Hoover, Instructor at the Center of Applied Technology-North, located in Severn, Maryland has turned out many successful students into the masonry and concrete trade. Curtis discussed some of the methods he uses at the beginning of each school year to “determine the students level of interest” and academic level. Curtis makes classes interesting and challenging at the same time. He offers questionnaires about the student’s interest, begins using fraction flash cards to determine their ability to understand measurements, offers random questions from the text book to evaluate each student’s ability to read and comprehend the topics at hand. He gives each student a different number each day and uses a lottery system of numbered ping pong balls that are drawn prior to questions being asked about the topic of the day. This helps Curtis to get responses, from otherwise less talkative students, all without making anyone feel uncomfortable. He makes the academic part of the training more relaxed and enjoyable. This is something that was an overall theme of this year’s meetings. Keep the students involved with the book work that they are less likely to enjoy to create more time with the tools, the part they will enjoy the most.

Rod Duckworth presents at the closing Banquet

The Keynote speaker at this year NMIA Award Banquet was Rod Duckworth the Chancellor of Career and Adult Education for the Florida Department of Education. Mr. Duckworth welcome the NMIA members and their families to Florida. He also talked about his journey to becoming the Chancellor of Adult and Career Education. Mr. Duckworth started his career as Agriculture instructors in the Arkansas Department of Education, he also taught in Washington State and he used the NCCER Curriculums. He congratulated the Hall of Fame inductees. Then he spoke on how much we need trade instructors in our schools today and what an impact that instructors have on their students and how much the construction industry benefits from the people they educate and train. Mr. Duckworth closed his speech asking that the current mason instructors and the retired mason instructor start developing future instructors from the ranks of students and former student that they have taught, this way we would all way have future instructor candidates ready to step up and make the masonry industry stronger in America.

James Crutchfield, Supervisor of Facility Operations for the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas National Monuments gave a tutorial and site visit to his facility. The visit allowed the attendees to observe the procedure for maintaining and patching coquina, the main material used in the construction of the Castillo se San Marcos Fort. Coquina, which is a sedimentary material made of shells and shell fragments, is sourced locally for this historic structure in St. Augustine Florida. Periodic maintence of the copings and various wall units requires the facilities operation team to cut out and replace the coquina material with material that has been recently quarried a few miles from the fort. James Crutchfield was a Skills USA participant prior to becoming a journeyman and credits some of his success to the program that exposed him to the trade. Now, James teaches and mentors his employees to become better masons and journeyman.

Mortar Net Solutions provided an in-depth look at the products used in cavity wall and adhered veneer construction and discussed the importance of drainage and airflow in the space between the veneer and the substrate. Products that were discussed were physically on site and available for the teachers to retain for their classrooms. Mortar Net Solutions will support your local training facility with product samples that can be used as training guides for the students.

Spec Mix presented an interesting spectrum of products that can benefit the trades. Their commitment to the training facility is not to go unnoticed. They will donate training mortar to a training program free of charge, another big step in keeping the training going toward creating good masons.

Calvin Cade, a retired masonry instructor of 34 years, demonstrated his Plumb Device, a jig that lays out columns and mailboxes within minutes. Thinking outside of the box has allowed Calvin to design a tool that increases production and reduces labor. Bottom line, it will increase profits.

Andy Green discussing the J.A.G. Clamp

Andy Green demonstrated his J.A.G. Clamp, a tool that is used to set your string line in just a few seconds. This tool demonstrates how new things are still possible and desirable in this very traditional trade. The two products mentioned are special for their design, but the inventors are special for their commitment to training future masons. In both cases a portion of the purchase amount of the above-mentioned products will be donated to a local training center near where the purchase has been made. Not only good product ideas, but great industry ideas. This is just one way this organization benefits the students in the long run, by keeping the “same old way” out of the classroom.

Attendees will leave the conference with new energy and new ideas to better draw young people of today to our industry. NMIA has been an administrator and supporter of two very important national events, the Skills Challenge held in Las Vegas Nevada at the World of Concrete and the Skills USA masonry pavilion event located in Louisville Kentucky. When students of the instructor members are not competing, the instructors support the national competitions by judging and assisting with the necessary takes that are part of each event. Eugene Johnson of Lake Marion High School, Milton Young of Hale County Center for Technology, Calvin Cade now retired, Curtis Hoover of Center of Applied Technology-North and Alonzo Lewis have been dedicated to judging the skill competitions for the past 30 years and do not currently have plans to stop. Consistency and dedicated to the craft describes these gentlemen perfectly. NMIA instructors have successfully trained students to compete in these events numerous times and provided guidance, judging and industry support prizes for the contestants.

This year, Kenny Allen, Masonry Instructor from Wallace Community College in Selma, Alabama was voted the2016 Skills USA Masonry Instructor of the year, an honor that is a recognition of his outstanding ability to present masonry fundamentals and definition of the kind of person Kenny is. This national honor will help draw students to Kenny’s program.

Longtime friends, Steven Fechino, Milton Young and John Bongiovanni

The National Masonry Instructors Association created their hall of fame 30 years ago, to honor the individual instructors and industry partners that make the difference in the training of students of our craft. This year the National Masonry Instructors Association inducted Carl Bongiovanni as the Industry Hall of Fame 2017 Member. Sadly, we lost Carl this year, but his efforts to the industry, the National Masonry Instructors Association, Skills USA and many other local masonry events will forever hold a place for the man that accomplished so many good things for so many of the masons of today. Many of us have been touched by Carl’s efforts over the years in one way or another. Accepting the award for his father John Bongiovanni, represented his father and family with the strong character that his father always presented. John will lead Bon Tool Co. into the future, and we are sure Carl is proud of how John is handling the task. Carl was not only a great part of the masonry industry, he was our friend who will be always missed.

Instructors inducted into the Hall of Fame were James Wilson and Mike Shepard. Both men deserve of this prestigious award for their many years of dedication, hard work and a little for putting up with some crazy students. We thank these gentlemen for their life ‘s work.

Words: Steven Fechino
Photos: Curtis Hoover
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