Congratulations to Mr. James Blocker, Welding Instructor at Mastbaum High School as he was named February Teacher of the Month. Mr. Blocker is a gem among gems in the School District of Philadelphia. At our surprise visit, students and teachers from across the Mastbaum community gathered together to congratulate and honor a man that has and continues to impact countless young lives.
Over 80 percent of the Mastbaum Welding students under Mr. Blocker’s instruction receive industry certification, as 90 percent earn their OSHA 10, or AWS (American Welding Society) Certificates. Mr. Blocker encourages his students to pursue their passions and also serves as an example to students of color that they can strive for and succeed in high-paying careers and opportunities in the trades. “James is one of the most engaging teachers and has an amazing mentoring relationship with students. James also stays in contact with students for years after they graduate, and helps connect them to careers and opportunities. He is well respected by all,” said Jonathan Jacobs, Mr. Blocker’s nominator.
Mr. Blocker not only engages students in the classroom for college and career, he also brings the real world into the classroom. He’s created partnerships with several industries, such as Philly Naval Shipyard, L3 Harris, HOLTEC Industries, and Rhoads Industries in an effort to create an employment pipeline for our students as they graduate. Last year, 3 students were hired immediately after graduation as welders earning $25/hr. Mr. Blocker not only educates our students about shop skills, but with soft skills as he prepares them for success after high school.
Mr. Blocker makes the best out of any situation, for both him and his students. When climate issues were taking place due to open fire escapes, Blocker and his students welded their own metal gates for doors, and installed them! When the auto shop was conducting repairs on vehicles, and had several bolts that were not removable, Blocker and his kids gathered together and welded the bolts out themselves.
Blocker is also working with Fox Chase Farms, to create a summer internship for the Welding students. Our kids will be creating welding sculptures, and also installing fences and doing welding repairs! “I can’t speak enough of him. He’s quiet, but mighty. He’s impactful to our teachers and students in the building! We need more like him,” said Jacobs.
Once again, congratulations Mr. James Blocker! Thank you for continuing to set the bar high in education and dedication to our students!