Did you know that when you sneeze, mucus is propelled at speeds of up to 100 mph?

I didn’t either, until my fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Joe Pendleton, shared the stunning statistic one afternoon before a room full of bushy-tailed bookworms. Each student, as juvenile as could be, erupted with laughter as we envisioned snot being slung across the room at astronomical speeds.

And, after all these years — amongst all the things I learned in school — I still vividly recall this factoid.

Preparing this column, I surfed over to the Baldwin Heights Elementary website, in search of Joe Pendleton. There was no way he could still be teaching, right? Wrong. Listed under the staff directory was Pendleton’s name. Wow. Talk about a commitment to education. He’s lived his entire life inside an elementary classroom. Cheers to you, Mr. Pendleton.

Band Geek

Throughout middle and high school, I was in the band. OK, to call a spade a spade, I was a band nerd. Tuba, baritone, trombone … if it had a mouthpiece and valves, I could probably play it. And, while my introductory band teacher, Mr. Keith Hudson, may be best remembered for his missing middle finger, he was truly a fantastic teacher. Can you imagine the patience he had, trapped inside a room, day after day, with 50-plus 13 year olds strapped with horns? Bless his soul.

Hudson took me under his wing. I remember spending hours after school, me, my baritone, and my mentor — a makeshift Mitch Albom and Morrie, if you will. Each week, he’d work beyond his billable hours with me musically. After our sessions, he’d send me packing with advanced sheet music and a friendly challenge. I took the bait and ran, blowing my horn all evening, to the point my parents physically tossed me out to the back shed. Day and night, I lived inside the music — memorizing the pieces, ad nauseam. I’d show up the next day, exuding confidence, prepared and ready to knock it out of the park. And, no matter how well I executed, Hudson would always provide constructive criticism, pointing out my mishaps, encouraging me to put in some more time. And it worked — from sixth grade on, I occupied nothing less than first chair, no matter the instrument.

Best Instructor & Trainer

Think back to the days you spent hunkered beneath a desk; your knees bouncing off the makeshift table’s underside; elbows sticking to the laminate top.

Between you and the chalkboard, one individual stood teaching, turning tidbits of information into lifelong lessons.

We all have at least one teacher that instantly comes to mind. One instructor that pushed and molded us into the mechanically minded individuals we are today.

What about you? What’s your teacher’s name? What made him/her so special? Was it her ability to present the information in a clear and concise way? Or was it his ability to demonstrate, repeatedly, just how a wiring diagram is rigged?

With your support, this instructor — who helped transform you into the HVACR workhorse you are today — can gain the recognition he or she deserves. The NEWS’ Best Instructor and Trainer contests, sponsored by hilmor, are now accepting nominations.

The Best Instructor contest, which was created 13 years ago, recognizes and awards HVACR instructors who have dedicated their careers to enriching the lives of students. Last year’s winner, Michael Leonard, an HVACR instructor at the Interactive College of Technology, Chamblee, Ga., is as dedicated as any teacher I’ve ever met. And, without a doubt, “Big Mike” demands his students’ attention. A student in Leonard’s class is taught very early that their attention benefits them much more than it does the instructor. And, when the weekend comes a calling, Leonard can most likely be found manning his classroom. Students that have fallen behind are invited to spend an hour or two on Sunday inside the school’s lab, as he reenacts troubleshooting steps, again and again.

Last year, The NEWS introduced the Best Trainer contest, honoring dedication and commitment to the industry’s trainers. The 2012 winner, Chris Mohalley, of Genteq, Fort Wayne, Ind., is widely recognized as one of the brightest minds in the industry, especially when it comes to electronically commutated motors. Certainly a complicated topic, Mohalley’s ability to smoothly explain and demonstrate the equipment’s components is unmatched.

Who are we going to honor this year? Well, that’s up to you. We need your help selecting this year’s winners.

The simple nomination process is open to anyone who has seen firsthand the positive and influential work an instructor or trainer has performed to better the industry. Nominees for the instructor award should be from a vocational school, community college, apprenticeship program, or adult-education academy. Nominees for the trainer award may be employed as full- or part-time workers, and must represent the manufacturing or distribution sectors. Deadline for entries is June 15, and the winners will be announced in early November.

Enter your nominee at http://bestinstructor.achrnews.com.


Remember, a mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher explains, a superior teacher demonstrates, and a great teacher inspires. Help us grant these educators the credit they deserve.

Publication date: 4/8/2013