By all accounts, Roger Thompson is one of the industry’s best at funneling his 32 years of experience in the electrical field into
the minds of first-year apprentices. They’re listening, they’re learning and they appreciate the care he shows for their careers.
Thompson’s impressive résumé includes being chief electrical estimator for Jesse Stutts, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., since 1997 and serving as an NCCER-certified electrical instructor for 19 years at Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) North Alabama Craft Training Foundation. As of March, he can add being named ABC’s 2017 Craft Instructor of the Year—an award that recognizes an innovative teacher with a positive attitude who promotes lifelong learning to the future workforce. The award includes a $10,000 prize from NCCER and the Trimmer Construction Education Foundation.
“Roger enjoys the challenge of motivating and teaching the first-year apprentices and providing the cornerstone needed for each apprentice to be successful,” says Tiffany Brightwell, president of the ABC North Alabama Chapter. “He is a model instructor, and contractors often ask for their apprentices to be assigned to his class because they know Roger will take the time to prepare their employees for not only the classroom, but also the jobsite.”
Thompson, who completed his own electrical apprenticeship with ABC in 1991, has had plenty of unique jobsite experiences to share with the roughly 500 apprentices he has taught. In addition to supervising estimates on health care, government, industrial and commercial facilities for Jesse Stutts, Inc., he has worked as an electrical technician at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and spent five years doing electrical design, estimating and maintenance for Johnson Controls World Services in the Marshall Islands.
“Roger always told us stories about his experiences in the field that went hand in hand with the subject matter he was teaching,” says Nathaniel Curry, a former student. “He gave us tips and tricks of the trade that I practice in the field and make me better at my job.”
Thompson also speaks to high school students about craft training opportunities and does hands-on projects with middle school students to give them a general introduction to the skilled trades. At the apprentice level, he makes sure to carve out time after class to discuss career advancement.
“Since I finished school in 2014, I have called on Roger many times and have always found him eager to help in any way,” says Kenny Beck, now an OSHA outreach trainer. “His passion for the students and knowledge of the subject is what sets him apart and makes him a valuable asset to the program and the community.”
Joining Thompson as finalists for the 2017 ABC Craft Instructor of the Year award were James Davis, who teaches at Hardeman County Schools in Middleton, Tenn; Alvin Pardo-Monell, who works at the APM Vocational Institute in Alexandria, Va.; and Lowell Reith, an instructor for Interstates in Salina, Kan. Each finalist received $1,000 from NCCER.