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Instructor sparks passion through welding classes

Jack Compton, who taught at COC for three decades, retires

Posted: August 26, 2009 9:42 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

In this April 18 photo, Jack Compton, right, demonstrates how to properly use a welding torch during class at College of Canyons. Compton retired after teaching at the college for 30 years.

Jack Compton often did more than join two pieces of solid metal — he brought together his students.

In his welding classes at College of the Canyons, he often began his class with a challenge to his students: push a hefty table across the shop. Their first lesson was that they couldn’t do it without some help from their classmates.

“If we work together, we’ll accomplish good things,” Compton said.

Compton is one of several veteran instructors who have taken advantage of the college’s retirement-incentive program this year.

“I had been thinking about it for quite a while,” he said this week.

After longtime professor Tom Lawrence retired earlier this year, Compton said he started giving it more thought.

He finally retired after he finished teaching his last classes in the spring.

He said he hopes to return to COC soon as a part-time instructor to continue guiding students develop a passion for welding. And he plans to stay involved with the American Welding Society and promoting the trade he picked up as a kid working with his father.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I loved teaching at COC.”

Compton, 63, was hired in 1976 as a drafting and welding instructor after spending 12 years in the aerospace industry. At the same time, he position as the welding instructor for the William S. Hart Union High School District’s Regional Occupational Program.

Nearly 20 years into his teaching profession, Compton, a Piru resident, led a campaign to reinstate the threatened welding program at ROP.

For Compton, welding is an important part of daily life as everything people used is made possible with welding.

“If it’s not welded, then the thing that made it was welded,” he said. “To say we don’t need welding is really naive.”

Compton said he has watched the program grow from having just over 20 students in the first year to serving packed classes with about 50.

He’s taught nearly a dozen welding classes, ranging from the basics to more complex classes, often putting in 80 hours a week to work with students, he said.

He led the welding certification class and even supplied the textbook to the course for students interested in gaining a welding certification, he said.

Marty Coronel attended COC from 1995 to 1997 and became certified under Compton.

“The thing that really kept me there was his enthusiasm,” said Coronel, who now works at Praxair, an international industrial gases company.

Coronel found a connection to welding and Compton’s teaching style.

“He just saw in me an ability to welding and a desire to do it well,” she said.

Coronel, 39, has returned to the community college in past years to teach various welding classes, she said.

“I never realized how successful I was going to be in this industry,” she said.



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