Welcome to “The Good Stuff”, where we highlight positive news and ways that NAED employees and member companies go above and beyond to give back to their communities! If you have some “Good Stuff” that you would like to share with tED, find out how below.
Today we’re looking at City Electric Supply in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Robert Sparks, the Electricity Instructor at Daniel Morgan Technology Center (DMTC), has been teaching for more than 30 years. Eighteen years after teaching one young man in a six-week program, the former student is able to give back to the professor and the program that changed the course of his career.
“Daniel Morgan Technology Center hosts close to 1,000 kids per day and serves as a hub for two feeder high schools. Students go to their home school and are bused here for different programs,” said Sparks.
Branch manager at electrical wholesale distributor City Electric Supply (CES) Spartanburg Kevin Ramsey was introduced to the electrical industry by Sparks through the exploratory studies program nearly 20 years ago. The two reconnected when Sparks came into the store to purchase some material. After conversing, Ramsey realized there was an opportunity to help DMTC.
“I met Mr. Sparks while I was a student in a six-week cluster program. We didn’t see each other from 1993 to 2011. When we saw each other again, he remembered me. That’s how invested he is in his students and cares for them,” said Ramsey. “Robert told me that the schools started advisory committees; he asked if I’d be interested in helping. I said yes right away.”
The advisory committees help approve important plans for more funding and grants. After a few visits to the classroom, Kevin quickly realized they needed more help in other ways. DMTC programs operate on a fixed budget, which affects the amount of supplies the classroom has access to. Sparks has upwards of 80 students come through his program in a school year, using various materials.
“When I was sitting in on lessons, I saw that the kids were working with wiring devices like receptacles and light switches, but some of the material had no screws,” said Ramsey. “I knew this was something my branch could help out with.”
Now, CES Spartanburg donates supplies to Sparks and his program on a consistent basis so the students can have updated equipment to work with. The materials include 250 receptacles and light switches a year, bath fans, house panels, and other materials that can be used in a classroom setting. This helps Sparks to use his budget toward other things.
“Kevin and CES Spartanburg are using their position and allowing an educational program to benefit. That’s really special and important,” said Sparks. “We’re not using conduit to install like a construction company would. So, if something is slightly damaged or bent in a warehouse that can’t be re-sold, we can still get plenty of use out of it with small training projects.”
“If I can help him with donations, he can use his funding on other things. It doesn’t cost us much to help,” said Ramsey. “He’s building future employees and teaching kids how to earn a living. Helping supply these kids with materials is an investment in the future of our trade industry.”
Ramsey has served on the Electrical Advisory Committee for DMTC for over six years and continues to supply the program with materials. The donations from CES Spartanburg have continued to impact the students and the program.
“Because of the generosity of CES Spartanburg, I’m able to save money. Kevin has gone above and beyond in making that easier for me to do,” said Sparks. “He always thinks of me and the kids in the school and educational system, and he does everything he can to help us.”
The projected need for electrician jobs between 2021-2031 is nearly 80,000 per year. Because of this, the trade industry is seeing job opportunities grow now more than ever. What’s Ramsey’s advice? Reach out to a technical school in your area and ask what you can do to support teachers and their programs.
“Get involved. Schools welcome resources for the students. Give these students a chance and help them work toward their goals as young professionals,” said Ramsey. “I have seen some former students come in here and buy things from us once they become employed by a contractor. I’m happy to have them come in and see them working. And I want to help kids realize the opportunities trade schools provide them.”
While Sparks continues to impact young lives in the classroom, he is thankful to Ramsey and CES Spartanburg for all of their support.
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