Rifle CMC instructor named ‘college-wide full-time faculty’ member of the year
Jason Shoup has come a long way from fixing fences at his family ranch and taking welding classes at Rifle High School.
On May 13, the Colorado Mountain College, Rifle Campus welding instructor was named college-wide full-time faculty of the year. It is the only recognition of its kind to come out of all CMC’s 12 statewide campuses.
After he was coaxed into a fake administrative meeting, Shoup was surprised by the announcement over an online Zoom call with more than 200 participants. The news came about a week after he was already named campus faculty of the year.
“I’m truly humbled,” Shoup said. “Working for a college with so many campuses and such a vast group of fine educators, I would’ve never dreamt in a million years just being a welding instructor that I would ever be in the position to receive such an honor.”
According to CMC, Shoup was given the honor for his work throughout 2020. He ensured that welding students had the opportunity to complete the requirements to earn their welding certificates in a safe manner and environment.
In unprecedented fashion, Shoup created some of CMC’s first-ever COVID-19 safety protocols in an effort to maintain standard learning practices for his students. He worked diligently with faculties staff at two area high schools to ensure in-person access.
Some of this entailed conducting health and body temperature checks on students prior to class as well as reducing overall class sizes to promote proper social distancing. This meant the 44-year-old Shoup, who’s married and has two kids, had to teach double the amount of classes.
Shoup typically instructs 20 classes a year, with about 15 students per class.
“We were kind of the Guinea pigs of face-to-face learning because welding is one of those subjects that you really can’t teach online,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how many welding videos and how much reading you do, welding’s just something — unless you’re actually physically doing it — you just can’t learn.”
“There’s no way I’d feel comfortable giving these students a certificate of occupational proficiency when they’ve never struck an arc,” he added.
Nik Campbell, an 18-year-old graduating senior at Grand Valley High School, spent two years at CMC learning welding under Shoup’s watch. He agreed that Shoup, a CMC instructor since 2006, deserves the prestigious recognition.
Campbell said it was when he suffered an injury while playing Cardinal football his junior year, that Shoup spent extra time trying to get Campbell set up for success.
“I missed a lot due to surgeries and physical therapy, and (Shoup) was able to get me into classes at night so I can finish up and finish up with an A,” he said.
Campbell said Shoup would in fact hurry straight from his farm to teach the class.
“For night classes, he was always on time no matter what he had going on in his life,” he said. “He always tried to get to the student and teach his students as much as he could. He taught us to keep going, no matter what, to find a reason to keep going.”
In addition to devising new ways to teach the skill of welding amid a global pandemic, Shoup helped lead six of his welding students to high honors in the SkillsUSA Welding Championships. His welding fabrication team went on to take gold while his individual students also achieved medals.
“I had a team of three compete in welding fabrication and three individuals compete in welding alone,” he said. “Out of those six students, we ended up with four of them making it to the national level.”
Meanwhile, Shoup always seems to be in more than one place at one time. When he’s not in his spark-flying welding shops, Shoup’s helping delegate as a sitting member of the Garfield Re-2 school board.
“It’s been busy,” he said. “I get done teaching at about 4 o’clock and most of our school board meetings start at about 5:30 p.m. We’ve got animals that we raise and feed, so I end up picking up my son from school, dropping him off at home so he can do chores, shower, change and get back for the school board meeting.”
“It’s a lot of running,” he added.
Shoup’s love for shop and welding started to blossom when he was a Rifle High School Bear. The RHS graduate of 1995 said he spent most of his junior and senior years learning under auto mechanics instructor Carl Minter and welding instructor Don Louthan, who was also the former head welding instructor at CMC.
“It’s very satisfying to take raw materials and turn them into something with a purpose, something with meaning,” Shoup said. “In the past, it’s been a trade that’s usually fairly high paid, for the mere fact that it takes really skilled individuals to do this. There’s not a lot of people that can do this kind of work.”
After he graduated, Shoup said he’d go on to work for several respective welding shops throughout the valley before starting his own business in 2002. From there, he’d also join up with Louthan to help teach welding at CMC before fully taking over when Louthan retired.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Don Louthan and Carl Minter,” he said.
Shoup has turned this experience into almost a 30-year teaching career.
“The value of Jason’s leadership in the welding program is embraced and appreciated by our communities, as evidenced by several unsolicited scholarship contributions and other financial donations this past year,” CMC Rifle Campus vice president and campus dean Tinker Duclo said in an email.
Though he acknowledges his statewide recognition with great praise, Shoup still has big goals for the future.
“I want CMC to be as recognized for their welding program as say Lincoln Tech or Tulsa Welding School or Pike’s Peak Community College or Pueblo Community College,” he said. “I want, at some point in time, when students are looking to go into a welding trade school, that CMC is one of the top ones that pop up.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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