The Industrial Education community is very alive with passionate characters. It has always been interesting to me to hear the backstory behind these passionate characters. This particular character shared his backstory in response to the backstory I shared in the last post.
I am pleased to introduce Ron Grosinger, who is a daily inspiration. I was so pleased to hear this backstory that, with his permission, I have decided to share it with you:
"I grew up in the same sort of house. Working with your hands as your job was not good... yet in contrast to what my parents would say... my mother was a Hands-On artist. The way she paid bills was through being an art teacher.
But it was one of these... "do like I say, not like I do"... situations. Because when I would build stuff or work on cars they would look at me like I was adopted or maybe an alien from another planet.
Same goes for my dad. He took over his father's Bakery in Manhattan which made him an entrepreneur small business owner. As a small business owner he would wear every hat that he could. Sometimes he was a baker sometimes he would run deliveries.
And in a similar way to my mom, he would never encourage me to run my own business. And he would never encourage me to work with my hands.
I have no idea what their mainstream, or White Collar plan would have been for me... but it seem like I could never do anything right for them.
So lucky for me I never give a s***. No idea why.. but I wanted to draw and build cars ever since I could remember. Cars meant everything to me.
That left me with one big problem... how do you do that? How do you build a car? at the time, welding was not even on my radar.
I didn't know how to build a car but I knew I liked drawing them. Somewhere along the line I was hoping a person would just teach me. But that never happened cuz these classes were not offered in my suburban world. I didn't even know that they offered them at any school.
This led me in the path of design school. Because I knew I liked drawing cars, and I knew I liked building model cars. So I thought maybe I could get into designing cars.
Also I should mention that I didn't have an interest in engineering cuz I didn't understand what it was. I thought, at the time, it was just math. I didn't even know what physics was. Not to mention I had a pretty bad education but that's a whole other story.
So going to college for industrial design was good for me because it meant drawing and building model prototypes of cars or products.
This seemed like a good idea until the rubber hit the road. Since I was already a non-conformist, I didn't fit the mold for Corporate America. And because of my lack of building experience. .. I wasn't the best at building models either.
After college I bounced around a bunch of different jobs. I didn't like any of them. I had to go back to the drawing board. What do I really want to do? And How I can pay for that?
My grandmother and my mother suggested teaching. But I refused because I hated teachers. As I said I had a bad experience in education growing up. Plus even if I was a teacher, what would I teach?
Turning moment was when I was working in a design office in Brooklyn hating life. I got a call from a friend who was at the beach. And I asked him. How are you at the beach in the middle of the day? And he said, I don't work in summers and I make more money than you.
Okay so then I thought maybe I could teach during the day and build cars at night. Decided to give teaching a try.
At first my instinct was to teach art because I had a design background. Got an appointment with my high school art teacher and asked if I could sit in to observe.
At first it was very awkward being in my early 20s in a high school. But then the students asked me what I did, and rather than talking I started drawing a car. I was immediately surrounded by the entire class and felt a little bit like a celebrity.
Epiphany. I said to myself, "You mean I could just draw cars and show students what I've learned and I get paid? Sign me up".
Lucky for me. That same teacher had an ex-husband that taught industrial Arts, mainly CAD. I got an appointment with him and he showed me the ropes.
Again, lucky for me there was a loophole in the New Jersey education system. If you did not go to college for Education... you could take advantage of a back door they call alternate route. Just had to take a few tests and go back to night school for a year.
Again, lucky for me, I joined the local tech. ed. teachers group. They found me a job and I took the first interview I was offered.
When I showed up for the interview the supervisor was an old school motorcycle and auto mechanic guy. We connected because at the time I was restoring a motorcycle at my house. Just getting it running nothing fancy.
I had one of those Gates of Heavens moments when he open the doors to the auto shop and said this will be your shop. I asked him, can I use the tools here? And he looked at me like I was crazy, and said, "Of course, it's your shop."
That was over 13 years ago.
So for the last 13 years I got paid to teach what I know and the shop gave him the opportunity to use the tools to learn more. I've since taken several Adult Ed classes and try to make up for my skills gap. Still working on it...
So, in a nutshell, that's how it went down."
Ron Grosinger is a teacher at West New York Memorial High School in West New York, New Jersey. His website can be visited here: http://www.rongrosinger.com/
His YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/RonGrosinger
His Instagram here: @mrgsworkshop