National Masonry Instructor Association 2020 Update
It’s been a tough beginning of 2020, as we have all had to deal with COVID 19. Just a few weeks into our spring semester, all our schools and training centers were closed due to the pandemic. Masonry instructors were all trying to figure out how we are going to teach and train our students. Virtual learning started, taking us out of the classroom to online training. ALL of us are a hand’s on, even in the classroom.
We do our NCCER or selected programs instructors are using. We create a relationship with every one of our students, as not all students learn the same way. That bond we create with each student lets us know if the student is understanding the lecture, presentation, problem-solving exercise. Not knowing how a student reacts during a demonstration is extremely frustrating when presenting virtually.
In the classroom, you can read the student’s body language or facial expressions to see if they understood the information you were giving. They are less likely to ask questions virtually. We have not figured out yet how we are going to train them laying brick and block virtually.
Now for some more cheerful news, 2019 was the National Masonry Instructors Association 30th Anniversary. Our summer conference was held at the Landmark Hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where it all started back in 1989. Here is the first letter sent to all Masonry Instructors across the country.
Because of your concerns, A National Brick Masonry Instructors Association will be organized and show your support for the Association. Recruiting brick masonry instructors can be a challenging endeavor, however, it is worth the challenge and commitment for both our masonry programs and our students!
As instructors, we are concerned about the quality of students leaving our classrooms and shops. It’s our responsibility to encourage, inspire, and ensure our students receive the best proper training and skills to enter the job market.
In today’s job market, a good attitude, teamwork, work-habits, and technical ability are essential skills that can lead to a successful future. The future in this business requires “ Professional Leadership and Performance”.
As instructors of Brick Masonry, we are holding the keys to the future of many students. Even at this moment plans and preparations are being made for a summer meeting, but the time and place will be announced later. If you have comments or suggestions for the association you should contact Milton H. Young, Committee Chair, Hale County Vo-Tech, Greensburg, Alabama.
Consider this your challenge, find out more about the association and become involved in whatever capacity that is suitable and satisfied with you. This letter could be sent out today with those exact words. This organization was formed from the masonry instructors in South Carolina that would meet annually for the VICA state competitions. These instructors would collaborate on training, curriculum, techniques on how they could improve their programs and especially help new instructors.
The late George Boozer from the Brick Association of South Carolina was instrumental in taking what the instructors were doing in South Carolina and making it into a national organization. In 1989 the National Brick Masonry Instructors Association was formed. In 1993 the word Brick was dropped from and the name National Masonry Instructors Association still stands today.
I call these gentlemen the founding fathers of this organization, Alonza Lewis (South Carolina,) Eugene Johnson (South Carolina), James Fryer ( South Carolina), Al Bates (South Carolina), James Ham (North Carolina), Bernard Everette (Virginia), Bernard Hubbard (Mississippi), Milton H. Young (Alabama – NMIA 1st President). They had seen a vision to gather all masonry instructors from around the country to work together to support each other and the masonry industry. We are proud that as masonry instructors we are the only trade that has an organization that supports each of us along with our industry partners.
Here we are 31 years strong and working on building this organization bigger and stronger than ever. Last year's 30th-anniversary conference was one of the largest conferences in the National Masonry Instructors Association’s history. With over 100+ attendees at the banquet. Our guest speaker for the night was Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA) CEO Jeff Buczkiewicz. MCAA has been one of our longest-running partners. In the mid 90’s Kimberly Shiflet at the time from MCAA said that they would do what we needed to support our organization. That’s when MCAA helped us start our web site. They have been instrumental in supporting us to this day.
The highlight of the evening is the new inductees to the NMIA Hall of Fame. This year’s instructors are; Mr. Tim Kidd, who taught at Union County Career Center and West Stanly High School both in North Carolina. Mr. Eugene Johnson, who was the masonry instructor for 37 years at Lake Marion High School in South Carolina. The inductee from the industry is Mr. Dana Martini from Superior Clay Products in Uhrichsville, Ohio. Dana has been to most masonry programs and organizations east of the Mississippi demonstrating and teaching us about how to build a properly functioning fireplace. His knowledge of fireplaces compares to knowing else. If you need him to demonstrate to your class or organization please contact him, he will be glad to come to your school or training facility.
Mortar Net Solutions Steven Fechino is one of our biggest supporters. Mortar Net Solutions started a scholarship for young apprentices at last year’s conference. They gave away 4 scholarships at the summer conference. Originally launched in 2019, the national program is intended to allow interested individuals to enroll in a masonry apprentice training program at the early stages of their career and is open to all facilities for qualifying individuals. In one year, the Masonry Scholarship Program grew from four recipients to 20 recipients.
In addition to the scholarships, the winners will each receive tool bags to help them as they work through their education and apprenticeships. These tool bags will be equipped with more than $1,000 worth of tools, courtesy of Bon Tool, Kapro Tools, KNIPEX Tools, U.S Tape, and Mortar Net Solutions. With a special thanks to their Champion Level Sponsors: Bon Tools and Kapro Tools for all their support of the scholarship program. Mortar Net Solutions worked with masonry instructors across the country to select which students would benefit the most from the scholarship. The following students were awarded scholarships by Mortar Net Solutions:
Steven Blakely, Snow Jr. and King, Norfolk, Virginia
Cyrus Brown, West Rowan High School, Mt. Ulla, North Carolina
Ray Fillon, Cantarella Masonry, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Alberto Gomez, Local 8 Milwaukee, Chicago, Illinois
David Hernandez, Creative Masonry, Greenville, Tennessee
Jacob Hortan, Claiborne High School, Tazewell, Tennessee
Jennifer Key, Columbus Career and College Academy, Fair Bluff, North Carolina
Savannah Kunkel, Carroll County Public School, Westminster, Maryland
Logan Lane, Creative Masonry, Greenville, Tennessee
John Livingston, Wallace Community College Selma, Selma, Alabama
Preston McBee, Providence Grove Highschool, Climax, North Carolina
Jarod Norberg, Western Maricopa Education Center, Gilbert, Arizona
Nickolas Ortiz, Local 8 Milwaukee, Chicago, Illinois
Orlando Ortiz Jr., Local 8 Milwaukee, Chicago, Illinois
Austin Smith, Snow Jr. and King, Norfolk, Virginia
Jonathan Smith, Wallace Community College Selma, Selma, Alabama
Korbin Torres, Western Maricopa Education Center, Gilbert, Arizona
Isaac White, South Caldwell High School, Hudson, North Carolina
Jesse Wilkinson, Snow Jr. and King, Norfolk, Virginia
We cannot run this organization without the help of sponsors, MCAA, Mortar Net Solutions, Bon-Tool, Marshalltown Tools, Specmix, Exact Match Masonry Staining, Wasco, Inc. North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association, Superior Clay Products to name a few, and there are many more.
With this year’s conference being canceled, NMIA and MCAA teamed to hold a virtual conference over 4 days with 3 different topics each day. With each topic lasting an hour, all instructors were given a certificate of completion that can be used as hours credited for certification or renewal certification. This is a win-win for both instructors and industry. There were fifty-two registrants, both instructors and industry from 14 different states stretching from coast to coast.
There were many great ideas presented in which we all can use in our masonry classroom. We also have started an instructor’s resource page on the MCAA website or you can go to the NMIA website and there will be a link to it. Highlights of this virtual meeting: registration from this meeting paid for NMIA dues but to everyone’s surprise we also became members of MCAA!
As we move forward with the 2020-2021 school year, some of us are back in school and some are starting virtually. We as masonry instructors will figure out how to make the best of it for our students. If anyone needs support please don’t hesitate to contact us, we are all in this together.
About the Author
Curtis C. Hoover is a masonry instructor at the Center of Applied Technology-North. He was inducted into the Masonry Hall of Fame in 2018.