Kimberly Schwartz

Last month I attended the HVACR Instructor’s Workshop in Lansdowne, Va. It was a great opportunity to interact with many of the people who are responsible for training the next generation of individuals to enter the HVAC industry.

There were some interesting trends I noticed as I interacted with the instructors. One thing I quickly picked up on was that everybody was interested in how to use technology to connect with students and to make teaching easier. Many instructors were willing to share their favorite websites, their PowerPoint lesson slides, and more.

Another thing I picked up on was the undercurrent of concern about how hard it is to recruit young people to the industry. More than a few teachers expressed anxiety about drop-off in enrollment, and how that can lead to cutting HVAC programs.

For me, the highlight of the conference was the final morning, when I got to presentThe NEWS’Instructor of the Year award to Jeff Sweda. I’ve already written a cover story and a column about Jeff, so I’m not going to write more about him here. Suffice it to say that he is one dedicated individual and truly deserved the honor.


Now it’s time once again to recognize the instructors who are deserving of this honor.The NEWSis now accepting nominations for the 2011 Instructor of the Year.

It’s our 12th annual instructor contest, which makes it sound like we’ve been doing this for quite a while. But if you think about it, it really means we’ve only named 12 people as best instructors. And there are a heckuva lot more instructors out there who deserve to be honored for the tough task of teaching they tackle every day.

The goal of this contest is to recognize and reward the instructors who have dedicated their careers to enriching the lives of students. The nomination process is open to anyone who has seen firsthand the work an instructor has done to better the industry.

We are seeking instructor nominees from vocational schools, community colleges, apprenticeship or adult education programs. (We don’t accept nominations for manufacturer-distributor trainers and seminar speakers.)

So think back: Who taught you the basic skills you needed to make it in this industry? Who fostered the lessons about how to be a responsible, reliable employee?

Who made HVAC a fun, exciting field to explore? Who took the time to answer your questions and encourage you?

Who made the difference for you?

This column is intended to prod you into going online and nominating the instructor who made the difference for you. Trust me, we’ve made it easy on you. All you have to do is June 3 and tell us why your instructor deserves the award.

I look forward to reviewing the nominees and hearing about the great instructors who are working hard to prep the next generation of the industry. Last year, after interviewing our top three 2010 winning instructors, I told one of my colleagues that I loved talking to the best instructors because their stories wrote themselves. I don’t have to do anything to make them sound better than they are - their service in behalf of their students shines through without any polishing on my part.

Plus, their gratitude for a little bit of recognition is also heartwarming. So your conscience should be pricked by now. Don’t procrastinate (didn’t your teacher try to break you of that bad habit a long time ago?) - just go give credit where it’s due.

Publication date:04/25/2011