Students in Curtis Zeigler’s construction technology class at Elmore County Technical Center enjoy the feeling of using power tools to create.
Holtville 10th-grader Jazmine Holton falls into the category of students who enjoy the class for that reason.
“I like how I can work with my hands and it is straightforward,” she said. “If you do not do something a certain way, this will happen. If you’re not safe, this will happen. I always ask questions of Mr. Zeigler. He will give me clear answers to help me understand.”
Holton said she likes the class because it utilizes her creativity.
“I’ve always been creative and inventive,” she said. “I’ve always had this spark of creativity for something hands on.”
She said she plans on taking the class again next year.
Zeigler said the students start the year by learning how to use a wide variety of hand tools and safety measures required when working in a shop full of electrical equipment.
He has 32 years of experience in education, 25 of those years at ECTC, and 40 years in the trade consisting mainly of cabinetmaking and carpentry which is the primary focus of the class.
“We repair furniture, get them working on lathes to make bowls, woodworking and cabinetry is what we do,” Zeigler said.
Wetumpka student Ezequiel Caleb enjoys the new skills he is learning in the class.
“I love the hands-on work,” said Caleb with hand router in hand. “Mr. Zeigler gives us projects so we can learn how to use these power tools. We started out using hand tools and now we are using power tools.”
Caleb is working on building a portion of a fence to keep his dog from escaping the backyard.
Zeigler said he typically has around 60 students each semester and several turn this skill into full-time work.
“We have several who get into it,” Zeigler said. “I have a shop myself where I work and some of the kids I’ll work with them on the weekend. Some kids who may need a little one-on-one. If there is a student wanting a job, there are jobs out there. We will find a job.”
The class offers certification for National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Students may earn the Core designation and Carpentry Level 1 through the class.
Zeigler said a lot of his first-year students have never used hand tools before attending his class. At the end of the semester, their skills are beyond where he thought they would be at this point.
“All these are good kids here,” he said. “The last few years the students have been really good.”
Zeigler said ECTC director Dr. Jimmy Hull does a good job of keeping the shop running with materials and equipment for 15-plus students in each class.