Meet the Hire Tech teacher going the extra mile for his students

When Glenn Goffinet first accepted his position teaching automotive classes at Tell City Jr.-Sr. High School, he thought he was just giving teaching a test drive for a year.

This year he celebrates 21 years at the school.

Glenn came to the high school from General Motors, where he had worked as a trainer for assembly technicians. He remembered his own lessons in automotive class when he was in high school and returned to the school to find little about the curriculum had changed. He set out to change that.

He pushed himself to ensure everything taught in his classroom wasn’t just theoretical; he wanted every student that walked through his door to be able to use what they learned in class in the real world.

On top of his automotive classes, Glenn took on electrical curriculum as well. And in 2013 he was one of the first teachers to be approached to teach Conexus Indiana’s Hire Tech advanced manufacturing program. He says the decision to add the advanced manufacturing classes was an easy one.

“I saw it has a huge opportunity to reach more of those students who might not be interested in automotive or electricity,” Goffinet said. “It’s not just about giving kids the interaction with different interests; it’s also about giving more kids the opportunity to interact with me.”

Goffinet prides himself on building a relationship with every kid in his classroom. The enthusiasm of the students he works with is what kept his initial teaching experience from just being a year-long stint.

“I come in with a positive attitude every day, because if I don’t my students won’t,” Goffinet said about how he chooses to impact his students. “When [students] have that negative attitude, that’s my time to step my own game up to encourage them and their interests.”

When asked to name a student he’s particularly proud of, Goffinet struggles, saying “I’m proud of all my students, and I’ve had a lot of students over 20 years of teaching.”

He says one particular student comes to mind: Justin Epple, a student in his automotive class from 19 years ago. Goffinet claims that Justin wasn’t very enthusiastic about the class. He loved working on cars as a hobby but struggled to envision turning it into a career. Goffinet says he encouraged Justin to explore the electrical course he taught, thinking that may interest him more.

Justin fell in love with the work during the course, and went on after high school to get an electrical certificate and a Master’s degree in electrical engineering. Today he’s a PLC Programmer for Toyota.

“It’s so important to me to identify that spark of interest and excitement in these students, and then facilitate it,” Goffinet said.

Goffinet, right, with Kyle Marshall, Conexus Indiana director of talent programs and former Hire Tech Master Teacher

“Glenn is such an incredibly hard-working educator. His passion for students is evident in everything that he does, and his positive attitude is infectious,” said Kyle Marshall, Conexus Indiana director of talent programs and former Hire Tech Master Teacher with Goffinet. “I consider myself very privileged to work alongside Glenn, and I feel that the teachers we trained together are lucky to have him as a mentor.”

Goffinet has been a driving force in the number of skill training programs Tell City Jr.-Sr. High School has been able to offer over the past two decades, said school counselor Lisa Noble.

On top of the Hire Tech program, the school offers welding and electrical certificate programs through partnerships with Ivy Tech. This year in January they added a supply chain program, which in its first semester already has 12 students enrolled.

“We want to show kids they can skill up and find good jobs right here in Tell City,” Noble said. “I think AML [advanced manufacturing and logistics] jobs are changing so much, and programs like these are so important to showing kids what opportunities are out there.”

On top of all the skills programs the school offers, Noble said they host a “Tour of Opportunity” at different manufacturing companies across the county for eighth grade students to learn about jobs within the community and the impact they have. After the tours, students give a presentation about what they learned at “Manufacturing Night” hosted by the school.

“As a community, we’re looking to grow; and as a school we want to know what we can do to meet those needs for our community,” Noble said.

Looking to the future, neither Goffinet nor Noble foresee slowing down. Goffinet, who currently teaches seven periods a day, said he would add an eighth it meant being able to reach more students.

“We spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about the future and how we can do better,” Noble said. “I don’t see manufacturing ever leaving our school; I hope it just keeps growing.”

Noble added that she believes Glenn and how hard he works to get to know his students is a large part of their success as a school.

“[The students] buy into Glenn, they believe in him.”