SYRACUSE — Sometimes just connecting with the right person can open a door for a job opportunity.
Aaron McKinley has been remodeling a bathroom in the home of James Flecker in Syracuse. Flecker, who happens to be the director of personnel and legal services for the Wawasee Community School Corporation, suggested to McKinley he should apply for the position as building trades instructor for Wawasee High School to replace the retiring Ed Waltz. “He (Flecker) said he thought I would be a good fit for the job and he encouraged me to apply for it,” McKinley said.
McKinley was not necessarily looking for a new position but eventually decided to apply and was hired. His first project as the building trades instructor will be leading a group of students in building a spec house just south of the high school along Syracuse-Webster Road on an empty lot that has been owned by building trades for several years.
McKinley has worked with his father, Jack McKinley, for McKinley Painting and Remodeling since he was 15 years old. Building trades is not exactly uncharted territory because Aaron was a building trades student for Warsaw Community High School before graduating in 2003. He later attended the Recording Workshop, a technical school in Ohio, and was certified in audio engineering and music production.
For six years McKinley was a drum instructor and part of that time was spent instructing aspiring drummers at Provident Studios in Warsaw.
Being a painter and remodeler for nearly 20 years has given McKinley a good experience base he can use to teach and guide high school students in building a new house. “I enjoy every aspect of the building process and not just doing the same thing all the time,” he said.
He said he believes it is critical now students are taught the construction trades. “There is a vast gap and workers are needed in these trades,” he said. “It has diminished over the years and there is a great demand for carpenters and other construction workers.”
Wawasee adopted the National Center for Construction, Education and Research curriculum and McKinley believes it can help increase the number of construction workers. NCCER has a national database and offers certification of trades workers. Students can also earn dual credits through Ivy Tech.
A goal is to “get kids to learn the major steps of construction and also proper safety practices, which is important,” he said.
Aaron and his wife, Kinsey, live in Warsaw and have two sons: Adrian, age 6, and Ellis, 2 years old.