Matt May Helps Grow Skilled Trades with Career Connections

Matt May Helps Grow Skilled Trades with Career Connections

July 8, 2024

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In his second year as the building trades and welding instructor at Iowa’s New London High School, Matt May (Local 1260 – Iowa City, IA) has dedicated his career to introducing students to the trades. He utilizies the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) Career Connections curriculum that teaches important hands-on skills for trades success after graduation.

From a family of tradespeople, May has worked in a variety of construction capacities, but found balance in using his job site skills to teach in the classroom. Prior to being a shop instructor, May spent eleven years as a physical education teacher, earned his Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership and was an assistant principal. Before his time at New London High, May spent seven years at Keokuk High School on the shop floor, using Career Connections as a guide to teach his students carpentry skills they could use outside of school.

“Career Connections is the lowest priced curriculum with the best content. All I have to do is open the book and read it – it’s all right there. Move in ready,” said May about his experience with the program.

“He’s been a great advocate for Career Connections,” said John Delany, Training Coordinator for the Cedar Rapids Training Campus. “When other high schools are looking for recommendations, I just give them his contact and before you know it, they want to invest in the Career Connections curriculum.”

May is working to grow and improve New London High’s trades course. Starting his first year with six welding booths, he now has eleven. He also worked with students to fundraise for a skid loader and raised money through regional grants to buy a mini-excavator. His classroom and shop floor space has also been adjusted to fit the needs and demands of the program with student’s help and input.

Matt May 2

Matt May outside of New London High School in Iowa.

When time allows, May also has his students work on projects in their own community. Whether it be a patio, shed, steel roof or deck, they bid on neighborhood projects and cycle the money they earn back into the program.

“I want them to leave here with the skills to be able to step onto a job site and do the things they are expected to do,” said May.

During the summer months when May is not teaching, you can find him on the job site. As a Local 1260 journey-level carpenter, he practices what he teaches on nearby construction projects.

“This is not just a job. This is a career with opportunities to advance. I am lucky that I get to do the two things I love; work with my hands and teach the next generation of tradespeople,” boasted May. “This is incredibly rewarding and I relate to these kids as visual, hands-on learners. Even if they don’t go into the trades right away, they will leave here with skills that they can use for a lifetime.”