He says that it’s not enough to know how to turn a wrench. Contractors and technicians need to know what an HVACR system is (not just the equipment, but also the airflow systems), what it means to take readings and understand what those readings mean, and more.
He cites students like Hunter Huff as examples of that. Another example is a young man named Jonathan Paracsi, a high-school student at Polaris who graduated and began working for Total Line Refrigeration in Avon Lake, OH.
Reitz says Paracsi had six months of training at Total Line, then spent the next four years as a commercial HVACR service technician, specializing in restaurant, cold storage, and supermarket refrigeration.
Students Become Teachers
Recently, he joined the HVACR team at Polaris as an instructional support specialist to assist in the lab setting.
“Today, Jonathan is advancing his education with the help of Cuyahoga Community College and plans to transfer to a larger institution to pursue a four-year degree,” Reitz adds.
As an aside, Doug Miller says that the owner of Total Line Refrigeration, Chris Cornet, is also a former student of Polaris.
“He went through our Construction Trades program and found his way into the refrigeration business. You never know where that road will take you, and that’s the beauty of this environment,” Miller says.
Reitz adds, “One of my beliefs is that any “thinking trade” requires a lifelong commitment to learning. At Polaris, part of our mission is to instill that into our students. We tell them Polaris is a starting point, not an endpoint. We always encourage students to continue their education. Students like Hunter and Jonathan are great examples of that.”
He points out that such successes directly result from allowing students to dig in and learn.
The Polaris Employability Skills Umbrella
Miller also says that Polaris helps students navigate the employment and job search process.
“We call this the employability skills umbrella. Resume writing is part of it, but we also help students with job search, interview techniques (we conduct mock interviews with members of each program’s advisory council), and more. We will also bring in industry members to interview our students.
“We allow time at the end where the interviewer can spend a few minutes with each student to give them constructive feedback. For me, that’s the best part because students can work on eye contact, proper handshakes, etc.”
Miller adds that all the teachers at Polaris come from industry and bring that industry’s insight, know-how, and work ethic into their program, and pass that along to the students.
“They help students understand the importance of reliability, dependability, showing up, and being a good teammate. They encourage students to be open to learning new things,” he adds.
So what does the future hold for the HVACR Program at Polaris Career Center? Reitz immediately smiles and says that the future is in the hands of young men like Jonathan Paracsi.
“I’m old school, and Jonathan represents the next generation of instructors here. He is closer in age to the students, and having him working here is fantastic. He has the right attitude and respects the trade, himself, and others. For me, that is the core of everything we teach here.
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