BMJ Stone
EZG Manufacturing
Federated Insurance
Fraco USA, Inc.
Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
iQ Power Tools
Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
Mortar Net Solutions
Non-Stop Scaffolding
Pullman Ermator
Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
May 6, 2002 2:20 PM CDT

Training & Recruiting: An Industry Report Card

The state of masonry training and recruiting


For several years now, the Mason Contractors Association of America has devoted one issue annually of MASONRY magazine to our industry's training and recruitment efforts, using the feature article to showcase some of the nation's best training programs. This year is no exception, but before we do that, I'd like to take this opportunity to provide a state of our industry's current efforts.

The masonry industry is still facing many obstacles in its training and recruitment efforts. One major obstacle in the way of our efforts is the image of the bricklayer and of the construction trades in general. Today's young people are being steered away from careers in construction by their guidance counselors, their parents and their peers. It is no longer "popular" to work in construction. It is seen as dirty and much harder than those career paths that follow a college education.

Unfortunately, even if we are able to spark someone's interest in the trade, they are faced with obstacles of their own. Where can they go to get trained? The MCAA gets e-mails, phone calls and letters on a daily basis from people interested in becoming a bricklayer, but they don't know of any training programs in their area. This would not be such a tragedy if these letters were coming from people in outlying areas where there were no programs, but actually, many of these letters come from people who live near major masonry training programs. These letters come from New York, North Carolina, Florida, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington state. It's nationwide and the list could go on and on. Why aren't they aware these programs exist? Obviously, we have not been diligent in marketing what's available.

Now, we've got someone who's interested and has found a training program, problem solved, right? Wrong! Before this person can get adequately trained, he needs to be hired by a mason contractor. One would think that this would be the easiest step, but the truth is, many mason contractors won't hire apprentices. I've heard many excuses: it's too expensive, it's too time consuming, I need someone who can give me journeyman output today, he's just going to work for another contractor for five cents more an hour once he's trained anyway. Unfortunately, this type of short-sighted vision is all too common.

Even if this apprentice is fortunate enough to find a contractor to hire him, he may still not be adequately trained. Due to labor shortages in other areas, many apprentices find themselves working as laborers just as often as they're on the wall or no one's available to "show him the ropes" when he actually is on the wall. Also, as an industry, we often overlook those people who are training the apprentices. Are the masonry instructors in your area being kept up-to-date on the latest industry standards and techniques? It's difficult for them to provide adequate training to our newest employees if they don't have adequate training themselves.

Obviously, we, as an industry, have a long way to go if we are going to solve our workforce problems. We've stood around too long and waited for someone else to take care of this for us. It's time we took action. What can we do?

Contractors need to take the lead. A good training and recruitment program can not survive without mason contractors to support it. Suppliers and schools can start programs but unless the local contractors are willing to hire and train apprentices, there simply is no point. All of their time and effort will ultimately be wasted. Every mason contractor needs to make a commitment to developing our future workforce by supporting their local programs and by starting new programs where none exist.

Advertise the opportunities our industry has to offer. Go to local junior high and high schools to promote careers in masonry. Participate in career days and career fairs. Advertise your training program in the newspaper, on the radio, even on a local cable channel or highway billboards. Get the word out!

Develop a national curriculum. A training program is only as good as the materials it uses to train. When were the books published? Are they kept current? Do they cover all the materials adequately? With one national curriculum endorsed by the industry, these questions could be easily answered and less effort would be required to keep all programs up-to-date.

Provide better training for instructors. Budget for continuing education for your local masonry instructors. Consider sending them to a national convention like MCAA's Masonry Showcase or the National Masonry Instructors Association Annual Conference. Purchase membership for them in both those organizations so they receive information on a regular basis.

Start a mentoring program. Give a slight raise to any experienced journeyman willing to take an apprentice "under his wing" on the jobsite. Provide training to this journeyman on how to be good mentor. Have regular meetings with the journeyman and apprentice to monitor the relationship.

Support apprentices already in your employ. One great way to show your support to an apprentice is by asking him to participate in a local competition. Three years ago, the MCAA started the Masonry Skills Challenge, an international competition for apprentices, which showcases our industry's finest young masons both from the United States and Canada. Regional competitions are usually held on Saturdays during the summer and fall, culminating in the international competition held each year during MCAA's Masonry Showcase.

Unify the industry. Suppliers and contractors need to work together. Too many good-intentioned suppliers are trying to start their own recruitment efforts, often duplicating what's already been done, and too many contractors are willing to stand by and let the suppliers do their work for them. This may work in the short-term, but in order for our efforts to be successful in the long run, contractors need to take the lead and the suppliers should support them. Contractors also need to work together by not "stealing" newly trained journeymen from each other, allowing time for the contractor to gain some return on his investment. Creating a future workforce will be a lot simpler if we attack with a unified front.

We have a long way to go to ensure the availability of an adequate workforce, but it is possible if everyone does their part. If you are unsure what you can do to help, contact the Mason Contractors Association of America at 800-536-222. The MCAA has many resources available to assist in your training and recruitment efforts including brochures for students and parents, a Check Out a Career in Masonry kit which includes brochures and a video for career days, a brochure on How to Set Up a Training and Recruitment Program as well as further information on the Masonry Skills Challenge.

Camden, Alabama
The Wilcox Central High School Career Technical Education Department accommodates eleven different technical programs and serves a maximum of 750 students. According to James G. Curry, masonry instructor, the instructional programs are designed to provide and allow for specialized training and assistance for advancement in masonry in a specific occupational field. Students in the masonry program participate in a variety of activities from individual projects to group projects. Live work is done in the local area to give students the best possible methods of instruction.

Deatsville, Alabama
The masonry program at Ingram State Technical College has been in existence for at least 26 years. There are 17 students currently enrolled in the program. The Ingram program is unique in that all of its students are incarcerated. The students are taught all phases of masonry including setting tile, finishing and figuring concrete, laying rocks, stone, marble and granite laying brick and block and figuring the materials for both.

These students have the opportunity to practice their classroom skills in livework projects around the campus. At least 85% of these students take advantage of this trade and use it as means of upgrading their economic status after being released.

Eufala, Alabama
The masonry program at Wallace Community College Sparks Campus has been in existence since 1966. Mr. C.W. Bynum, masonry instructor, has an average of 14 students in this program each semester. Students in the program have the opportunity to practice their bricklaying skills while participating in live work projects for non-profit organizations. Projects so far this year have included renovations of the Science Building on the Sparks Campus, a Habitat for Humanity House in which the students volunteered on their off time to complete the foundation, and a time capsule to be opened in the year 2101 in downtown Eufala.

The masonry department has been involved with SkillsUSA — VICA and has been quite successful with a national winner and several top ten finishes since 1990. Mr. Bynum attributes this to Wallace Community College's Coop program which allows students to earn while they learn and receive valuable practical experience.

Evergreen, Alabama
The masonry program at Reid State Technical College has been active since the opening of the college in 1966. Mr. James E. Benson has been the instructor since 1983. For the past 19 years, Mr. Benson has contributed his success with the students to developing a rapport with each student, which allows them to feel their self-worth and in turn, helps them become good masons. There is a minimum of twelve full-time students per semester in the masonry program. Two different blocks of high school students are dual-enrolled in the program. This allows for the high school students to earn college credit while in high school, plus gain valuable experience along the way.

Lafayette, Alabama
The masonry department of the Chambers County Career Technical Center under the instruction of William L. (Buddy) Combs designed and sculpted a brick sculpture that will be showcased on the CTC campus. Each course offered on the CTC campus will be represented within this sculpture. Boral Brick in Phenix City, Alabama donated 200 green bricks from which the sculpture is being carved. When the masonry students finish carving the sculpture, they will lay it in a brick panel across from the main office on the CTC campus. Thanks to Sculptures by Cannon and Boral Brick for making this project possible.

Selma, Alabama
According to instructor Kenny Allen, the Masonry Building Trade Program at Wallace Community College in Selma, Alabama is one of the oldest and most active masonry programs in the state of Alabama. The program students have played a major role in the growth of Selma and the Dallas County area. Through the live work program, they have been able to educate their students as well as help community non-profit organizations such as the YMCA, churches and schools. Most students who have gone through this program go on to work in the masonry industry — some have even started their own mason contracting companies. Due to their relentless recruitment efforts, the program recently went from an average of twelve students per semester to a current enrollment of 22 students.

Southern, California
The Masonry Industry Training Association (MITA) has been very busy this year. We have a total of Two apprenticeship classes, one in San Diego and one in Riverside, six high school classes covering most of Southern California with a couple pending to start this summer. MITA has grown tremendously in the past year; we strive to improve our workforce for our future mason contractors. With the average age of a mason being over 50, we are trying to change that statistic by promoting our industry through career days, speaking at prisons, and getting more involved in our own communities. Currently we are training around 400 adults/students in high schools and various ROP classes.

Mountain View, California
The Walton & Sons Masonry Apprenticeship Program is an intensive, four year in house, state certified program that provides each student with a comprehensive knowledge of the full range of masonry, with particular attention being paid to the complexities and trade secrets of the craft. Instruction, provided by Mr. Steve Montez, Senior Instructor for the program, begins with the basic skills, progresses to the more advanced and then on to specialty areas. Each apprentice is trained to the highest standards of the craft to develop not only journeyman masons, but to develop a pool of individuals from which to draw the foreman, estimators and superintendents of the future. Apprentices receive two hours of instruction weekly and spend the second Saturday of each month in a hands-on training session. Over the four year program, each apprentice receives 576 hours of direct classroom training, 384 hours of hands-on direct instruction via the Saturday sessions and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training.

Manatee/Sarasota Counties, Florida
The Manasota Masonry Apprenticeship Program has been in existence for 5 years. The 3-year program is sponsored by the Masonry Contractors Association of Florida, Florida Department of Education and Manatee Technical Institute. To successfully complete the program apprentices must attend a combination of 144 hours classroom/hands-on and 2000 hours of OJT (on the job training) annually. There are currently 37 registered apprentices in the program. We are very proud to have had several winners in different masonry competitions including a 3rd place national winner. Presently all graduates are in some supervisory position. We attribute the success of our program to the local contractors and suppliers who support us. Instructors for the program are Charlie Hall and Joe Pulverenti.

Addison, Illinois
District Council No. 1 of Illinois Training Center (DCTC) is a new state of the art training facility in Addison, IL serving Chicago and collar counties. There are currently 15 instructors engaged in teaching a 12 week pre-apprenticeship, 3 year apprenticeship, trowel trades cross training, journeyperson upgrade along with multiple levels of certified OSHA programs. Current focus disciplines include but are not limited to brick & block, stone, plastering and marble masonry. Mr. Robert Arnold is the director of this 36,000 square foot facility.

Chicago, Illinois
According to Chris Laughlin, apprentice coordinator, the Bricklayers Local 21 of Illinois Apprenticeship and Training Program trains up to 96 apprentices per year. The students learn safety, scaffold training and hands-on brick, block and stone setting in addition to other industry-related training. This spring and summer, students will have live work opportunities by doing repair work for the Bethel United Church of Chris in Elmhurst, Illinois and building a concession stand for the Lynwood Little League for the Township of Lynwood.

Franklin, Kentucky
Bobby Poteet, first year teacher at Franklin Simpson High School, has 90 students who participate in the program. The masonry program at Franklin Simpson High School has been around for almost 30 years. All students get hands on opportunity and on the job training through the school.

Some projects the masonry class has done is laying brick on the superintendent building, block on baseball dugouts, and just last year, the class laid block on the new dugouts on the softball field. Not only do students get real life experience training, but they also get a chance to compete through SkillsUSA-VICA. Many students get a chance to compete in the state level, and many of those students have continued on to the national level. Franklin Simpson High School has had a national contestant for the past two years.

Bel Air, Maryland
Harford Technical High School is located in Bel Air, Maryland. The Brick and Block Masonry Program has been under the direction of Gary W. Siler since 1988. Approximately 30 students complete the competency-based program each year. The students are active in Skills USA - VICA and have placed first in the state competition three of the past six years. Two students have competed at the national competition with good results. In 1995, James Lux placed fifth and in 2001 Brian Anderson was second, taking home a silver medal. This program consists almost entirely of hands-on learning as an application of knowledge acquired in the classroom. Masonry students, in conjunction with the other construction students, have built three houses that were sold to private citizens in the Harford County community. Profits generated from these sales were used to purchase updated tools and equipment. Other projects by the masonry students include Habitat for Humanity, marquees for numerous schools and churches, and even classrooms, all within Harford County. The students of the Brick and Block Masonry Program have even built dug-outs at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland, as well as for other Harford County high schools. The most visible projects have been markers on local roads, such as "Welcome to Edgewood" on U.S. Route 40 and two Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway signs along Maryland Route 24.

Severn, Maryland
The Center of Applied Technology North opened in 1974. There are seven feeder schools in the north end of Anne Arundel County that send approximately 1,500 students annually. The masonry program is one of twenty eight trade and technical programs offered. It is a three-year program that serves between 50 - 60 students. Real world experiences are obtained from building projects for local schools and communities. Projects over the last couple of years have included: baseball dugouts and two 28' X 40' X 12' block storage buildings for two of our feeder schools. We built a 48' X 24' split-face block storage for a local little league. We also build two or three brick, block, or stone signs annually with the latest being a brick sign for the Anne Arundel County Fire Headquarters.

One of our most inspiring projects was built in our shop for our open house in October, 2001. Students constructed a 10' 8" X 16' American flag using split-face block, red brick & glazed block. CAT-N Masonry has a partnership with the Masonry Institute of Maryland and BAC local #1 of Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia.

About 2 years ago the New England Concrete Masonry Association joined forces with an association known as the Massachusetts Trowel Trades Association. This group, made up of and run by vocational school masonry instructor volunteers, is very active in supporting masonry training in the state. They also welcome those from outside Massachusetts. This group has held three major events each year. The first, in the fall, is a masonry seminar, which acts as a professional development opportunity for the instructors. They organize a day of presentations from experts on the masonry industry and invite all instructors to attend. In the February timeframe they hold their annual "Masonry Knowledge & Safety Bowls" which challenge students on the textbook instructional aspect of masonry. And finally, in May they hold a "Best Trowel Competition" which allows student teams to compete in the skills area of masonry.

This year the group is consolidating these separate events into a single Career Days event in early April. Added to the program will be seminars and demonstrations for contractors and architects as well as an additional competitive element for students to better display their talents to this new audience. The level of effort and results produced but this grassroots volunteer group is truly amazing and deserving of recognition.

Rolla, Missouri
Mr. Harold Martin, masonry instructor at Rolla Technical Institute (RTI) and his students have been involved with a variety of community service projects this year. Recently, an elderly couple lost their home as a result of fire. Four of the twenty-six masonry students and Mr. Martin volunteered an entire weekend to complete a block foundation for the couple's new home. The class also helped the Rolla Lions Club remove an existing park pavilion and rebuild the new pavilion's foundation. In addition to the community service, the masonry students complete all the brickwork for the RTI construction trades tech house.

The University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR) is carrying out a comprehensive research program in conjunction with the Rolla Technical Institute (RTI). Unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings represent a large part of the building inventory around the world. Recent earthquakes have shown that performance of URM walls has not been adequate when subjected to seismic loads. Failure of URM walls can be prevented and/or lessened by using Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composite materials. Test results have demonstrated the effectiveness of FRP composites as a mean to strengthen URM walls. The masonry specimens were built by students of the RTI Masonry Program as part of their training. The RTI students of have also been involved in the strengthening of the walls. These tasks have been conducted under the supervision of their instructor Mr. Harold Martin in coordination with Dr. Gustavo Tumialan and Mr. Jason Cox from UMR. The main objectives of this research program are to provide design recommendations for the strengthening of URM walls with FRP composites.

West Plains, Missouri
The Masonry Program at West Plains is a two year program for 11th and 12th grade students and post secondary students (adults). The program covers all aspects of the masonry trade. Each year the students brick veneer a home. This project also includes brick steps, brick sidewalks, concrete poured driveways, mailboxes and fireplaces. The students also participate in many hands-on projects throughout the community, some of which include Habitat for Humanity, set up at the Home and Garden Show, and the stone work on our Community Welcome Center. This program is also active in SkillsUSA - VICA and last year one secondary and one post secondary student took first place honors at the state competition and went on to place at Nationals. Randy Schutjer, masonry instructor, considers his masonry class to be a beginning apprenticeship, and he tries to prepare his students for the job site. Many former students are now employed in the masonry field.

Buffalo, New York
The training program in Buffalo trains about 50 to 60 students per year as well as cross trains their journeymen. The classes focus on developing skills needed to succeed in today's workplace. They try to stay ahead of the curve by offering training in products that they can see a future in, such as Thin Brick and Aerated Autoclave Block. They also strive to instill a sense of craftsmanship and camaraderie through courses such as Labor History and Sexual Harassment. According to Scott Bank, "In Buffalo, our goal is to produce a well rounded, safe and courteous worker that can earn a living for years to come."

Yorktown, New York
Masonry instructor Erik Cantamessa has 12 students enrolled in his program this year. The two-year program covers brick and block one year and stone and tile next. Live work projects this year consisted of a concrete patio with stone riser steps. Students work on a portfolio base grading system with the students showing off their best work. Math and English are integrated into the program's curriculum.

Greensboro, North Carolina
The masonry program at Greensboro Grimsley High School had been in existence since 1995. Mr. DeGraffinreaidt, the masonry instructor, averages anywhere from 27-40 students each year. Students in the program do a wide variety of activities from building their own projects to going on real construction sites. The program helps teach students leadership skills along with other skills that will help them in the future. This program has a masonry club for the students in and those not in the class. They take field trips to brick yards and other areas that have to do with masonry. The program is a 100% supporter of SkillsUSA - VICA, about 98% of the students have already joined. They presently have a computer lab with CAD Drawing and design to help students better understand blueprints. Students have said, "Masonry is one of the best classes at this school." The sign up rate is above any other class. Many of the students who have graduated from this class have gone on to get jobs in the masonry industry. There are three levels of instruction: Masonry Core/Masonry 1, Masonry 2 and Masonry 3. Hands-on projects have included helping fix brick work around the school and surrounding community.

Columbus, Ohio
"The masonry class at Southeast Career Center in Columbus Public Schools is having another great year," said Mr. Brian Evans, junior masonry instructor. They have currently enrolled 22 juniors and 11 seniors. In addition, they have just finished their recruitment and all seems to be going very well for the 2002/2003 year. Mr. Adam Viney, senior masonry instructor, has just completed the Home And Garden Show where the students built a paver walkway for the main stage. Lastly, they are working on a SkillsUSA - VICA regional contest where the top-placed student will move on to the state level.

New Philadelphia, Ohio
Todd Bonvechio and Ryan Irwin are teaching a total of 33 junior and senior masonry students at Buckeye Career Center this year, which includes 11 feeder schools covering parts of 5 counties. Students contribute to the yearly construction of a house, which is auctioned off at the end of the school year. Last year's 2,475 square foot home consisted of over 22,000 jumbo bricks. The basement was an all concrete poured wall. Over 350 square feet of ceramic tile were laid in the bathrooms and a 36-foot Rumford Fireplace was also installed. Additionally, the students found time to lay a 50' x 90' foot basketball court for the student body to use on their lunch hour and assisted with various community service projects throughout the area.

Ravenna, Ohio
Maplewood Career Center's masonry program, taught by Rich Nagy, has become a significant contributor to the school's annual holiday craft show called Christmas in the Woods. Each year, thousands of people visit the school to shop for crafts and seasonal gifts during the two-day show. While their parents are shopping, hundreds of youngsters visit Santa in the masonry lab where the jolly one and his helpers set up camp in front of a full-size fireplace built just for the occasion by masonry students. This year's fireplace featured amix of textures including cultured barn stone and cobble panels. A special feature, built just for Santa, was a huge stone chair.

According to Nagy, designing and building the fireplace has become a meaningful project for his students and a way for his class to take a prominent role in the annual craft show. "The fact that we have such a point of interest in the masonry lab puts us on the map and draws a great deal of attention to our students and to their abilities," Nagy said.

Another big project for this year is a regional apprentice contest sponsored by area contractors and unions that will be held in the masonry lab at Maplewood. Nagy said 26 apprentices are entered in the contest that will be divided into skill levels determined by the amount of apprenticeship experience each contestant has.

Wilmington, Ohio
Laurel Oaks CDC is one of four campuses of the Great Oaks Institute of Technology serving schools in southwestern Ohio. The Masonry Program at Laurel Oaks CDC is a two-year career technical program that has had very good success in placement in the masonry field, and currently has 18 students enrolled. In the last year the students have built a press box for East Clinton High School, two dugouts for Southern State Community College, a school sign for Clinton-Massie High School, a wall to surround the dumpsters behind the school, and a wall to separate the Air Force Junior ROTC from the automotive technology at Laurel Oaks. There are several projects that are scheduled to be completed this spring.

Afton, Oklahoma
The Northeast Technology Center masonry program, under the instruction of Bud Johnson, has been in existence for 28 years. High school juniors and seniors from 13 feeder schools attend NTC annually. The program is also open to adult students. NTC masonry program enrollment is usually 20-30 students annually. The students participate in live work projects such as signs, concession stands, baseball dugouts and other projects for municipal parks and facilities. Students also work on campus projects.

The NTC masonry program is two years in length. An important part of the program is the on-the-job training, which allows students to be employed part time for mason contractors. This employment usually evolves into full time once a student graduates.

The NTC program is very active in SkillsUSA — VICA and has represented the state of Oklahoma at the national competition in Kansas City for six consecutive years. In 1996, an NTC student took first place at the national competition. NTC has also had a competitor in the 1997 VICA international competition held in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Media, Pennsylvania
The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades' masonry program has been in existence since 1891. When endowing the school in 1888, founder Isaiah V. Williamson wrote of the importance at his school of "Šthe proper training and education of youth to habits of industry and economy and the importance of their learning a trade so that they may be able to earn their living by the labor of the handsŠ" and that "poor and deserving boys could be gratuitously instructed in the rudiments of a good English education and what is of equal, if not greater importance, trained to habits of industry and economy and taught such mechanical tradesŠsuited to their several capacities." To that end, they have been teaching masonry for 112 years and presently have 31 students enrolled in the three-year program.

Students in the program have the opportunity to work on masonry projects in the masonry shop, on the 220-acre campus, and in off-campus community service projects. In addition, this year, for the first time, instructor Daniel Hiltebeitel has initiated a cooperative education program for seniors in their spring semester in which they work eight hours, three days per week for one of several local mason contractors and gain experience unavailable in the workshop.

Mr. Williamson expressed concern about young men serving an apprenticeship and earning a living by the labor of their hands. The masonry graduates are given advanced placement in the apprenticeship program and currently the Williamson School places an average of six apprentices per year with Philadelphia area contractors. For more information, see their website at

Scranton, Pennsylvania
According to Joe Pinto, Trowel Trades Instructor at the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County, the school has been involved in the Trowel Trades Program since 1972. The three-year program, which consists of block, brick, stone, concrete, plaster and tile, has an average of 30 students per year. The students have completed several projects on and off campus including a poured concrete footer, a block foundation and brick veneer on local house. They have also poured several concrete wheelchair ramps this year. The project students seem to enjoy most, however, is the fireplace project, in which the students each year build a fireplace for the Christmas party. The students design, estimate materials and construct the 20' x 12' fireplace and it is used to cook the food for the party.

Uniontown, Pennsylvania
The Fayette County Area Vocational-Technical School, located in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, lays claim to being the commonwealth's first area vocational-technical school. Mr. Terry Motchar, the masonry instructor, explains that he averages about 20 students per semester. The students, in grades 9 thru 12 from four school districts, learn skills in four different areas of the trade including brick masonry, stonework, cement finishing and tile setting. The students do live work on a regular basis, building storage buildings and brick marquees at their home schools and most notable, building two stone gateways for a local historic community. These projects not only provide a good service to the community, but are also excellent publicity for the program and the school.

Holly Hill, South Carolina
The masonry program at Holly Hill — Roberts High School has been in existence since 1968. This is a two-year program under the instruction of Mr. Eugene Johnson, with 36 students enrolled. Two seniors in the program worked last summer with Pettit Construction Co. and Carolina East Masonry. After doing several class projects, the students got experience in underpinning a mobile home and storage room for our district office. Last year they also had three district competition winners.

Harlingen, Texas
Currently Harlingen High School has fifteen students in the masonry program. Students can take masonry for two years. The class is divided between Masonry I and Masonry II. The objective of this masonry program is to enable students to gain entry level skills in the masonry field. The class meets Monday thru Friday for an hour and an half. Besides working on hands-on projects in the class, the students are also very active in the Skills USA-VICA. Harlingen High School has had six students out of the past ten years participate at the national level in Kansas City, Missouri, as state champions. The masonry program has had female students place at the district and state levels competition with a young lady representing Texas in 1997. Harlingen High School also offers an Introduction to Masonry class, which is nine weeks long. This class is aimed primarily at freshmen students.

Suffolk, Virginia
The Pruden Center for Industry and Technology opened in 1975 with 16 programs including a two-year program in masonry. The masonry program is now a one —year program with an average of 20 students from four area schools in the city of Suffolk and Isle of Wight County. The instructor, Jerome Elam, believes in giving students experience in the "real, live world of work.," and since the real world can not always be duplicated in the lab, he takes the students out to build community projects such as brick veneer homes, marquees for local schools and rescue squads, foundations, and brick sidewalks. Students completing the program often enter the local apprenticeship program, work for private contractors, and some eventually start their own businesses.

Princeton, West Virginia
According to masonry instructor Carl Pruett, the program at Mercer County Technical Educational Center currently has 19 students enrolled. The masonry program has been in existence since 1968. The main influence of the program is laying brick and block, however, it also covers pouring and finishing concrete, setting tile, and stone work.

For the past two years, the masonry students have made park benches out of concrete. The CAD class designed the benches and forms were then created by the welding class. Students machine mix the concrete, place reinforcement, pour and finish each set of benches. Pressure treated seats are then attached on site using tapcons. The benches are located at two local city parks, one county park and several county school playground facilities.

Fennimore, Wisconsin
The masonry program at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College has been in existence since 1997. Instructor Don Borchert has 18 students in a program that has been consistently full since its beginning. In addition to brick, block and concrete lab work, students build permanent projects for non-profit organizations in the area. A parallel program is run at the Prairie Du Chien Correctional Facility. Jim Kilen is the instructor. This program gives individuals an opportunity to learn a trade they can use once they are released.

About the Author

Kimberly Shifflette is the former Director of Education for the Mason Contractors Association of America and Executive Director for the Arizona Masonry Contractors Association. She has also served as the Chair for the SkillsUSA Masonry Technical Committee.


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