Debra Lemke

To all the teachers and administrators at the Georgia Trade School,
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for everything that you have done for my son, Ryan Lemke. Before Ryan enrolled in the GTS, he was floundering. He had always thought that he was going to play football in college. He really didn’t care about the college part but was all about the football part. Unfortunately, Ryan suffered a career ending injury just 9 days into summer college football camp. He withdrew from school before classes even started to come home and have his 4th football related surgery in 2 years. Ryan really did not think that college was the right choice for him but he wasn’t sure where to turn for help. All of his friends had gone off to college somewhere and Ryan was at home recovering from surgery and uncertain about his career path. He was floundering, never a good thing for a 19 year old male. Ryan had seen some television news stories about the wonderful world of welding and his interest was picqued. He heard about the boom going on in the oil and gas industry with fracking and learned that welders were in short supply. He read some articles and learned that welding involved working with your hands and was physically demanding. He had never worked with his hands before but knew that he loved physical work (years of football and landscaping). How unfortunate that our high schools don’t offer “shop” class anymore. He might have learned in 9th grade that he wanted to be a tradesman. Instead, he was unsure.
We found out about GTS from an online search through google. The fact that the school offered welding certifications in 14 weeks (versus 2 years at our community college) was good news. Plus, we have family in Atlanta and Ryan would have a place to live while he went to school.
We were going to be in Atlanta visiting with family for Christmas and called Ryan Blythe. Even though the school was closed, he offered to meet us at the school and give us a tour (I think it was the day before Christmas and I know that we pulled Ryan away from his family). We liked the facilities and everything Ryan Blythe said made a lot of sense to us. We liked that GTS has business partners who hire students directly from the school. Our only concern was whether Ryan would actually enjoy welding or be any good at it. We took a leap of faith and enrolled Ryan in the school and are so glad that we made the right choice.
After the very first day of school, Ryan called home excited. He had welded on his very first day. His words were, “I can do this. I can make a living doing this. And, the people here are great”. His dad and I were both happy and relieved. Ryan would come home on the weekends and after about 4 weeks, we noticed a big change in him. And, it wasn’t just his Dad and I. Everyone noticed. Ryan was excited about school and talked about welding to anyone who would listen, unusual for a kid who usually doesn’t have a lot to say. His confidence level was high and he no longer appeared to be “floundering”. He had a goal and a purpose.
Ryan graduated with 4 welding certificates and a job offer. One week after he graduated from GTS, he was employed with Thompson Industrial Services and working on the Duke Power Marshall Steam Station plant shut down in Mooresville, NC. And he is making really good money, more than his college educated mother. Go figure. Ryan has chosen the road warrior route for the time being. As a member of Thompson’s crew, he will travel the southeast working on various industrial plant shut downs.
Ryan received his first paycheck this past Friday. He was very proud of himself and I was happy that he was able to take over his car and insurance payments. He plans to buy a TIG machine and will practice welding in the evening so he can continue to build his skills. He also wants to take a pipe welding course during his down time.
I can’t thank you all enough for everything that you have done for Ryan. We are very happy parents. I also want to personally thank James, whom I have never met but heard about on a daily basis. My phone conversations went something like “James this and James that”. Whatever James did to motivate and teach Ryan is much appreciated. From what I can gather, Ryan knew that he had to work in order to gain James’ approval. If he messed up, James would flat out tell him so and it pushed Ryan to be better. When he got something right and earned and got an “atta boy” from James, he was thrilled. And, I’d also like to thank Ms. Elaine for her patience. Ryan talked about how nice and how patient she was with him. Whatever she did, she put him at ease and that helped him to learn a lot from her.
I am very pleased that Ryan wants to continue to learn. He is always on YouTube watching welding videos and he can’t wait to buy some equipment. His continued interest in learning more about welding is proof that he likes what he is doing and really wants to make this a career.
Thank you again so much for everything. If you ever need a former student’s parent as a reference, please feel free to consider me.

  • Posted by Creative Juice
  • On May 2, 2017
  • 0 Comment