New tech ed teacher in Weyauwega-Fremont
By Angie Landsverk
When Ryan Lemke was part of the Weyauwega-Fremont School District’s maintenance staff, people often asked him what he did in that role.
He would tell them, “I do everything but teaching.”
These days he has a new answer to that question.
“Now I’m teaching,” Lemke said.
He is the school district’s new technology education teacher.
Lemke assumed the duties on Jan. 25, said District Administrator Phillip Tubbs.
Both Tubbs and Middle/High School Principal Jodi Alix approached Lemke last fall about whether he would be interested in teaching tech ed.
That was after the district’s former tech ed teacher resigned right before the school year began.
Difficult position to fill
“Tech ed is a very difficult position to fill and maintain quality instructors,” Tubbs said. “Very few students graduate each year with the certification to teach in this field.”
The resignation right before school started made it even more difficult, he said.
The district had the position posted most of the year and only had a few applicants, Tubbs said.
Alix said, “Due to the limited number of educators going into the technical education field, and our commitment to help students succeed in their areas of passion, we saw Ryan as a perfect person to hire as our technical education teacher. Ryan is patient, interactive with students and is detail oriented with a sound knowledge base of what students would need to be successful within the technical education area.”
When she initially talked to him about the idea, he was unsure about it.
Lemke said he liked what he did as part of buildings and grounds and maintenance.
He joined the district in 2014.
“I loved that job,” Lemke said. “I felt we were making really good progress throughout the district.”
Tubbs continued to periodically bring up the idea.
The district had a substitute teacher for the position first quarter and a retired tech ed teacher second quarter.
Lemke began thinking about it a little more, seeing it as an opportunity to use his knowledge and background to teach the students.
Encouragement from administrators
Encouragement from Alix and Tubbs also helped him decide to accept the position.
“I thought I’m going to give it my best shot,” Lemke said.
He grew up in Fremont and graduated from W-F High School in 2000.
“I got into the construction field right after high school,” Lemke said.
He spent 13 years working in construction – starting as a laborer and working his way up to a foreman.
“I did everything from concrete to building,” he said.
Lemke’s interest in the field began when he took woods, cabinetry and metal classes in high school.
Now he is teaching such classes.
Lemke has an emergency license to teach and is working toward his licensure for tech ed.
“I’m taking it a step at a time,” he said.
Alix explained that in technical education, the state will grant a license through the Experienced-Based Technical and Vocational Education Subjects pathway.
“People who fit this pathway profile are being supported by a Wisconsin public school district to teach technical or vocational education in their school,” she said. “This can include architecture and construction, electronics, engineering, manufacturing, etc. The school district provides a professional development curriculum for the candidate to complete during the initial three-year license.”
Lemke will need to demonstrate his experience in the technical field or experience related to the vocational education subject while also having pedagogical experience, Alix said.
“Pedagogical experience is the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept,” she said.
Alix said that because the students know Lemke for his hard work ethic, they know and respect his expertise, along with his willingness to share the classroom environment together.
“We had all the confidence that Ryan would be a perfect fit due to his dedication to our students and district,” she said.
Prior to assuming the teaching duties on Jan. 25, Lemke spent two weeks shadowing the retired tech ed teacher who taught the class second quarter.
“I was comfortable,” Lemke said of his first day teaching.
He said his first week went very well.
Lemke is teaching an introductory tech ed class to eighth graders.
The rest of his teaching schedule involves teaching high school classes.
He sees his job as a teacher is to prepare students to go into the field.
Lemke has already touched on his background in some of the classes, telling the students how he “started at the bottom and had to work his way up.”
He wants to teach the students that hard work and honesty will get them a long a way today.
Lemke says he will work hard to be the best teacher he can be.
He said it means a lot to him that Alix and Tubbs “see something in me and believe in me.”