MONTICELLO, Ill., (WCIA) — This year, WCIA is telling the stories of people across Central Illinois who deserve a little extra recognition. In October, we’re focusing on outstanding educators.
First, we’re introducing you to two teachers in Piatt County and showing you inside of their unique classroom. It encourages students to get their hands dirty and learn outside of their comfort zones.
For Ryan Woodham, an industrial technology teacher at Monticello High School, showing students how to stop and start a weld is just a part of his daily routine in class.
He’s been teaching there for 15 years.
“I love teaching, I love working with young kids,” Woodham said. “There’s nothing better than taking a kid who’s not sure what he wants to do with his life, and helping him find a path. That’s what keeps me coming back.”
At one point, he was in their shoes. He graduated from Monticello High School in 2003 and spent a lot of time in the same classroom he now teaches in every day.
“It’s interesting having students and I went to school with their parents or I went to school with their older cousins,” he said.
Jim Standerfer is Woodham’s right man. He was an English teacher for six years, then worked in custom furniture design before eventually finding his way back to the classroom.
“I don’t expect any of these kids to be expert woodworkers when they come out. But it would be cool if they could use a tape measure,” Standerfer said.
But on a larger scale, he wants kids to see the world differently.
Standerfer and Woodham are working together, fueling a flame for fascinating futures.
“I’m right now leaning toward being a heavy equipment operator,” Jerremy Sebens, a senior in the class, said.
He spends any free time he has in the classroom and helps other students with hands-on experiences such as welding.
Sebens does it while looking up at Woodham every step of the way.
“I told him the other day, he’s my school dad! That’s what I told him. I said you’re not really my teacher you’re my school dad,” Sebens said.
The class is also dedicated to helping the community. They made butterflies at Nick’s Park right in town. Woodham said it’s not only a great way to show off their work for the town, but it’s also something the students can revisit years down the line with families of their own.