By Tim Ashley
WARSAW — In a shop area on the west end of Lakeview Middle School in Warsaw, Jeremiah Paseka teaches welding to high school students, some of whom aren’t sure of their career choice and need some guidance. It seems only fitting, because he found himself in a similar situation while in high school and taking an ag mechanics class introduced him to welding.
Paseka is a native of Warsaw and a 2007 graduate of Warsaw Community High School. There was no family history of welders and his interest in welding started while taking an ag mechanics class as a sophomore. Six weeks of the class was welding.
“It clicked and I liked it,” he said, so he enrolled in the welding class the next two years.
After graduating from high school, he took his interest in welding a step further and attended the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, a nine-month welding program in Troy, Ohio. He graduated from the program in August 2009.
Paseka entered the workforce for a few years and was a welder for the pipe fitters union and elsewhere. Then in November 2013 he received a phone call from Chris Moore, who was Paseka’s welding instructor in high school. Moore was the welding program’s first teacher when it began in the 2003-04 school year.
Moore had been driving to Warsaw from Kendallville daily and was looking to get hired to teach welding at the cooperative in Kendallville to replace a retiring instructor. He asked Paseka if he was ready to take over Warsaw’s welding program, which is overseen by the Warsaw Area Career Center. Paseka agreed to teach welding.
“It (teaching welding) was a passion of mine when I was a high school student,” Paseka said, recalling he used to joke he would one day take Chris Moore’s job.
Paseka began as a welding instructor in January 2014. “That was a good time to start because I had only about three months to decide if I wanted to come back or not,” he said. Of course he did come back.
He now teaches basic shop safety, hand tool use, project building and fabrication to high school students.
Paseka likes the ability to start with only a pile of metal and a blueprint and then “make a project come to life,” adding he is building the next generation of welders.
Particularly when teaching, he enjoys the “light bulb” moments when students grasp what is being taught. “I can point kids in the right direction because students sometimes don’t know what they want from life,” he commented.
He taught at Warsaw until leaving to take a similar position for the Pathways Cooperative at Wawasee High School during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. He then came back to teaching welding again at Warsaw.
Welding has increased in popularity considerably since it began in 2003-04. There were 50 students in the most recent school year and as of early June, 84 had signed up for 2021-22. Part of the recent growth can be attributed to opening up the program to sophomores beginning next year.
But another major factor is the money to be made in welding. Paseka noted if a student attends a trade school after high school it is only for about six to nine months instead of four years at a traditional college. Then if a student is willing to travel some, they can make good money fairly soon after schooling.
Even more money than some teachers are making.
Outside of teaching welding and working part-time once in a while doing welding projects, Paseka has helped with 4-H students involved in welding, as well as the FFA.
He is married to Betsy Paseka and they have a 3 year-old son, Henry. Jeremiah enjoys outdoor activities such as camping, kayaking, shooting and spending time with family.