Walking through the halls of Paul M. Hodgson Vo-Tech in Newark, DE, you would think Charles G. Hoard Sr. is just another student. He shares a laugh and a pat on the back with many of the students, many of whom aren’t even enrolled in his hvacr classes.

This attitude follows Hoard into his classroom, and it is a major reason why he has been honored as a runner-up for The News’ Instruc-tor of the Year contest.

Besides offering a life lesson or an encouraging word to each of his students, Hoard has been able to completely reinvent the hvacr department at Hodgson.

Before coming to the school, Hoard owned his own business, which he still manages at night and during the summer. He has been vocational chairman and president twice on the Board of the First State Chapter of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES). He also was elected president of the Middle Atlantic Regional Association of RSES, and oversaw and instructed an adult hvacr program.

Hoard was approached to take over Hodgson’s program, which was ready to close due to lack of enrollment. He knew he would take a great pay cut, but said he couldn’t refuse to help put young people into the industry. “When I see something wrong, I’ve got to change it.”

And change he has brought. The classes that were at one time ready to shut down now have to turn students away. In fact, Hoard said that over the last seven years of teaching, all of his students but two have entered the hvacr field after graduation.

What is the secret of his success? Hoard says he started from scratch with the program, which meant throwing away the old textbook and materials. Also, Hoard’s presence in the local industry and his connections have been a great help.

He has received a great amount of help from contractors and manufacturers by promising to provide qualified workers into the area in return for lab donations and internship opportunities. Last year, Hoard was able to acquire $60,000 worth of equipment for his lab.

Importance of Internships

Hoard was able to place all of his juniors in paid summer internships and created a junior mentoring program. This program allows students to shadow a technician and accompany him or her to a jobsite.

Hoard also allows his students to help him with his business on weekends and nights.

He also requires students to pass the EPA certification exam so that they will have better opportunities for higher wages and jobs after graduation.

Because of his positive presence, many students came into the classes just to have Hoard as a teacher, but eventually stayed because they learned to enjoy the trade and were willing to make it a career.

Many of Hoard’s students commented that not only was he superior in teaching about technical issues, but issues of life as well.

For each class, Hoard writes a new quote on the blackboard that will get his students thinking about their goals. One permanent quote in Hoard’s classroom is: “A teacher to me always hopes that the current generation of students will build on the past generation and improve, advance, and enrich future generations.”

This kind of attitude has filled the seats in the hvacr classroom. Hoard has made relationships with his students that go beyond the school walls and last beyond the school year.

Keeping in Touch

Each year, Hoard holds a get together at a Blue Rock’s game, the local minor league baseball team. The annual hvacr class event has now become a whole school event.

Hoard wanted to find a place where teachers, students, and parents could get together in a relaxed atmosphere to meet each other and feel free to ask questions.

It is this kind of outside the school events that have made Hoard a successful teacher. Hoard says that his impact was first noticed at the funeral of his father only recently. Several students, past and present, came to show their respects and their support.

“They know I’m always there for them,” Hoard said. “Their presence at my father’s funeral showed me that the relationship and impact on our students goes far beyond the classroom.”

Publication date: 09/25/2000