There are many reasons people get into teaching: shaping young minds, making a difference, and having the summers off.

T.H. Pickens Technical Center HVAC instructor Dan Barden became a teacher to give back what was so generously given to him.

"I learned my trade from my father, Bill Barden, Jack, Jim, Bill, and Les of Flint Warm Air Supply and Mack and Tom at A&S Supply in Flint [Mich.]," Barden said. "I am so thankful for the opportunity to train and work with people to help them be able to start a career that has been great to me."

Click on "Quick Stats" for a brief rundown on Barden.

That kind of attitude awarded Barden with an honorable mention in the Best Instructor contest sponsored byThe NEWSand the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).

The Pickens Technical Center is a career and technical training center that offers more than 50 program areas to high school students and adults. Barden's students range from ages 16 to 62. The curriculum sets the school apart from colleges and schools around the area by concentrating strictly on residential HVAC equipment. It turns out high-quality residential technicians, well grounded in the fundamental basics of HVAC installation and repair.

"Most of our graduates end up with commercial contractors and are successful there," Barden said.

The class is broken down into 60 percent theory and 40 percent hands-on material. The course has an advisory board that meets at least three times a year and students are required to take the Industry Competency Exam (ICE).

Barden has been in the HVAC industry for 39 years, three of which he has spent teaching.

"My favorite part of the job is building rapport and relationships with my students; seeing them learn in the classroom and create and produce in the lab," said Barden. "It is not unlike watching my own sons learn to ride a bike, to fish, and to read."

Publication date: 11/13/2006