Jim King named American Welding Society Teacher of the Year – News – The Hawk Eye Newspaper

Jim King has been teaching welding for more than 40 years, at Burlington High School, Fort Madison High School and Southeastern Community College.

FORT MADISON — Jim King’s 40 year career as a welding instructor is twisting tale of happenstance, determination and skill.

But it wasn’t happenstance that earned him the rare distinction of American Welding Society Teacher of the Year a couple of weeks ago. It was his passion for the craft, and those he teaches it to.

“I learned how to weld in the neighborhood when I was a kid,” King said.

King’s lifetime of welding experience could land him a job that pays three times what he makes at Fort Madison High School. He’s grown used to saying “no” to those offers.

“It’s not all in the money. It’s what I can do to get these kids out there. To get them a good job,” the Fort Madison native said.

King literally wrote the book on welding, and his instructional teaching guide is used in schools far beyond his current job at Fort Madison High School. The guide takes a hands-on approach to welding, and is flexible enough to meet each student’s level of proficiency. Some are much further along than others, but the discrepancy between each student’s progression doesn’t foster competition.

Instead, it inspires camaraderie.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s not a normal class,” said 17-year-old Fort Madison welding student Milo Orton. “We have music playing. It’s just like you’re in a shop with all your friends.”

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The teaching guide and curriculum King developed is a means to an end, and the the goal is always the same — to provide a secure life for his students. King was elated by the idea of his students reducing future debt by obtaining dual college credit for the welding program at Southeastern Community College. Those who start in their junior year may only have to attend one year of college.

“No debt. Good job. Good life. That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.

Ask him for his life story, and King will take you on a winding journey punctuated by good fortune, most of it occurring 24 hours at a time. After serving in the Army during the Vietnam War, King barely had time to get his feet on the ground before an old friend offered a life-altering opportunity.


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