Sunday, April 23, 2017

Op-Ed: From Student To Instructor - Andre Carpenter-- Energy Coordinating Agency

Some people become environmentalists; others like Training Center grad and new instructor, Andre Carpenter, are born. A young man with a well-honed sense of what he wants to see in the world, like the best teachers, he leads by example.
Originally, from Brookhaven, Delaware County, as a child, Andre was drawn to science and the environment; or as he prefers to say, “I have always had a general love for science, period.”
After considering engineering, Andre found a home in the Environmental Science program at Widener University, where he was able to accompany professors on field research.
He spent ten days in Costa Rica studying sustainable development, which included visiting a butterfly farm. Later, he spent three weeks in Peru, in the Amazon rainforest studying light gaps.
After graduation, Andre was on the job hunt; not quite finding the right opportunity until he found Energy Coordinating Agency's environmental workforce training program.
The core training program includes instruction in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER), solid waste management and cleanup, waste treatment and stormwater management, enhanced environmental health and safety, mold remediation, and asbestos abatement.
Each semester a cohort of 20 eligible students enter the program. For Andre, his classmates became a family.
A bunch of different personalities, with different life experiences, they took care of each other and made sure each one understood the content and completed the program.
Throughout the term, ECA’s Registrar, Sherleen Laboy became, in Andre’s view like a “fairy godmother—you need this or that, Sherleen took care of it.”
Walt Yakabosky, the Training Center Director recognized that Andre had all the makings of a strong instructor himself. Was he interested in moving to the front of the class? It was easy to say “yes.”
After all, Andre knew the material and considered himself well-prepared.
Standing in front of people and being the expert was a bit unnerving. Still, Andre quickly understood that he would earn the respect and trust of his students by being himself, sharing his expertise, and working with students to find answers to any questions they might throw his way.
When asked to reflect on his experience at ECA, first as a student, now as a teacher, Andre readily recommends the Training Center. The diversity of training and the skills students learn can lead to a broad range of job opportunities.
In particular, Andre loves to teach the “hungry” student, the one who “wants it, has questions, and gets the process.” Andre also loves to see the student who is keeping at it, coming along.
Andre is keen to focus his student’s attention on safety—fundamental to the OSHA courses and essential to stay healthy on the job.
“You’ve only got two eyes,” is his standard line to remind students to wear their safety goggles.
As a born environmentalist, Andre walks the talk. As an instructor, he understands that theory and hands-on learning result in proficient and confident students. He’s already working on expanding learning experiences for students to share his love of science and environmental stewardship. The sky is the limit for Andre.
At the EPA graduation in March 2017, Sherleen, ECA's registrar, always standing by her students.
The Energy Coordinating Agency is a nonprofit based in Philadelphia and has trained over 3,600 energy professionals.  Since its founding in 1984, ECA has weatherized 45,000 homes; repaired or replaced 50,000 heating systems; provided water conservation services to 37,000 homes, and prevented over 75,000 tons of carbon emissions.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from the ECA.
(Photo: Andre Carpenter, (left) with his instructor, ECA's Mat Himmelein and fellow graduate Ronnie Fowler.)
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