By Mark Wille
On a warm summers evening early in 2020 I got a call from Steven Baczek, my architect friend. We were both too tired to sleep. We started talking about a project he was drawing for a town called Taylorville, Illinois. This town has a high school construction program for the Building Trades. They build a Student Built home for their community. We reviewed the plans, and he introduced me to Matt Blomquist. https://www.instagram.com/build_learn_teach/
"Matt is a very passionate construction teacher who is looking for new, innovative, and creative ways to inspire students though building construction. His love, knowledge and excitement for hands on learning is what keeps his students involved and interested." ~Tim Zavacki
This is another photo from yet another host and a quote
Duke Lazowski had this to say ,"Before I met Matt, I didn’t even know there was a field called the building sciences. Matt enlightens us on how he implements this curriculum with his students on a weekly basis during the Shopclass podcast. His knowledge and energy definitely make a positive impact on his students on a daily basis."
Right out of the gate I felt like Matt was someone who I went to High School with. The conversation went on and on until late in the evening... we wrapped up the call without ever talking about the project. I had learned a lot about his drive and the amazing program, and this was the foundation for a follow up. That very weekend we spoke twice and went through the goals of the high-performance house, the project and all of his ideas on how to inspire his students.
The school had found a lot and the house was to be situated on the corner with an alley behind it. As luck would have it the location is a whole block from the ones the students were currently working on. The walls commonly referred to as the assembly or envelope were very important to Matt and the drawing from Steven pushed heavy on the details. Every time Matt and I spoke it was about how to best deliver the project, keep the students learning new skills and what products/manufacturers would be best for the goals & teachings. High energy continued on these regular calls that we fit into out schedules and a friendship grew as well. Whenever a voice was in the background Matt would be quick to point out what child was there and what they were up to, multi-tasking is a skill that this teacher and father is a real pro at.
If you read my previous article here on OffSiteDirt you also know that I met the Shop Class Podcast through Matt. This next photo is from one of the regular hosts along with his quote https://www.instagram.com/zavacki_tech_ed/
Now that we have heard from some teacher on the East Coast about Matt, let's turn attention to some construction PHriends Mariana Pickering https://www.instagram.com/emumariana/of Emu Systems https://www.instagram.com/emubldgscience/ has this to say: "The thing that always strikes me when I talk to Matt is his genuine humility and appreciation for all that he has learned in his role as an educator. He reminds us that there is always more to learn, and the best teachers remain eternal students."
Jake Bruton https://www.instagram.com/jake.bruton/of Aarow Building https://www.instagram.com/aarowbuilding/in Missouri is also a host of the UnBuildIt show and an original with The Build Show Network had this to say: "I believe the most amazing aspect of Matt B is that he has has a high-quality, knowledgeable, carrying builder trapped in the body of an excellent educator. As I High School Student I would be excited to attend his program."
Travis Brungardt and Joe Cook of Catalyst Construction https://www.instagram.com/catalystbuilt/ and BS & Beer KC https://www.instagram.com/bs_and_beer_kc/ put on the MidWest Building Science Symposium with help from the attendees and exhibitors a check was issued to the Taylorville project as ween here in this photo:
More articles coming on MWBSS soon so please look out for these. Now in the beginning of the article you may have felt the rhythm of a Kenny Rogers song by my first few lines. This was on purpose. The country music industry needed a star and Kenny was the gamble they took. Our communities and school also need a star so that other towns, programs and schools can copy these and also shed light on the programs needed for the next generation to shine.
Last year Matt B was named teacher of the year as we see in the following photos. These were captured by his wife Carmen and the incredible Tommy TV program https://www.instagram.com/tommytv.ths/ which is the classroom right next to Matt.
In September of this year, while the students were busy working on the home. A camera crew arrived who had been working in secret with Carmen. In Taylorville, Illinois high school and Tommy TV presented Matt with a check for the program from Harbor Freight Tools for Schools for $50,000. https://www.instagram.com/hftforschools/
Could you imagine walking out into the garage of a project with your class and find a camera crew, your principal, your spouse and a giant check on a giant tool chest? This was a day I'm sure he and the high school will never forget.
On October 19th Matt will be spotlighted again on Shop Class PodCast to talk about this incredible award https://www.instagram.com/shopclasspodcast/ Keep in mind this is just part one. More on Matt, what is happening in Taylorville and the work this building trades program accomplishes. I encourage you to take the time to learn about this program and see about bringing this idea to your community. Perhaps you have a program already and the district needs some examples of success, please share this with them.
For those of you unable to make the Shop Class Podcast ... you may find yourselves at a presentation by Matt at Phius Con, on October 27 - 28 in Chicago, Illinois https://www.phius.org/phiuscon
No worries if you miss these. I will be sure to update you with photos, quotes and articles right here on OffSiteDirt where you will always see Ever EXPANDING REsults & #greenstepsforward.
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Special Thanks to Adam@intelligentmembranes.co.uk for the Character of Mark Wille
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