Future woodworking teacher carving out his dream

Born in Prescott, Arizona, on the Yavapai Apache Native American reservation, Jeremy Trapani comes from a diverse make-up of a mixed ethnic background of Italian, Mexican, Native American and Irish. After he moved to California as a young child, he was raised mostly by his grandparents in the San Gabriel Valley.His passion for woodworking was sparked by his grandfather at a young age and set ablaze by his high school wood shop teacher John Mason at San Gabriel High School. Mason is an uncle to Trapani and a man of sincere character who he holds up with his highest respect. Mason uses woodworking as a means to not only provide students with a career path but with the essential life skills needed to succeed on a day to day basis. Mason inspired Trapani to share his passion to motivate others to challenge themselves to grow and progress by teaching woodworking. Mason advised Trapani that Cerritos College was the best school to pursue a career in teaching in the woodworking field as the college began offering teacher preparation program in career technical education field including woodworking called CTE Teacher TRAC in 2008. He joined the program in fall 2009. "This is the case because Cerritos College offers the best woodworking program in Southern California along with the Teacher TRAC program," said Trapani. One thing that sets him apart as a prospective teacher is that he shows sincere care. He literally tackled to change the life of a "problem child" whom many experienced teachers even hesitated to deal with. In the spring of 2010, while he was interning at his alma mater San Gabriel High School, he found a student cheating on a test. Trapani warned the student once and the student responded with a defensive attitude. Three minutes in, Trapani saw the student copying the answers again from the student next to him. Trapani proceeded to confiscate the test with an offer to teach the subject one on one after class with a second chance to take the test. The student reacted defensive and uttered curse words at him. At this point, Trapani was taken aback but he knew that he needed to keep his composure. He, then, calmly walked to the student and talked to him as an adult. In a respectful tone he asked the student to come outside. His teacher's instinct told Trapani that the student's peers were fueling the boy's confidence. Once Trapani and the student were outside, the student's attitude had mellowed and the two had time to introduce each other. From their conversation Trapani gathered that the student was having trouble in his other classes because the teachers did not want to deal with this "problem child." After their talk, Trapani brought the student to the wood shop library and asked the student to choose a project and that he would help the student build it. The student proclaimed he could not do any project because those were too hard and if he did see one that he liked, he lacked the funding for the materials. Once Trapani told him not to be concerned about the money, he became more enthused and decided to make his mother a jewel box. As they started the project he was very dependent on Trapani to help him through all the steps, which was understandable. As time passed he grew into more of an independent thinker. By the third week he would proudly show Trapani the forward progress he achieved on his own in the time Trapani was not there to help him. At the end, the boy was off to the races and a leader to the other students. This incident is a testament to his excellent quality as a teacher - even as an intern, he already took extra interest in a student who was facing difficulty at school, challenged and guided the student on the right path, paying all of the costs out of his own pocket. So far his experience in the CTE Teacher TRAC at Cerritos College has been outstanding. "What makes the whole experience amazing is along with the fact I am learning what I LOVE is the family bond shared between all 500 students and our staff of highly experienced and dedicated teachers, aids and maintenance crew," said Trapani. Trapani is currently studying at California State University, Los Angeles, to earn his teaching credential while improving his skills by taking wood courses at Cerritos College and working in a cabinet shop. Once he receives his bachelor's degree he would like to eventually run his own cabinet shop and teach at a high school or college. The selfless aspiring teacher is well on his way to carving his path toward these goals. He has what it takes to make a difference in others' life as a teacher and he knows how rewarding it is.

********** Published: August 19, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 18

FeaturesEric Pierce