Teacher uses his smarts to save his class

The story of an Illinois teacher who used social media to solve a money shortage at Gillespie High School.

At Gillespie High School, about an hour from St. Louis, construction trades teacher Mark Goldasich learned first hand about shrinking Illinois school budgets.

"When I saw $600, I knew I had to do something," said Goldasich.

At the beginning of the school year, Goldasich was told his program's annual budget had been cut by two-thirds to $625. Not nearly enough for his students to keep measuring, painting, sawing, and building. So Goldasich built a Facebook page with the help of his daughters.

"I'm not the social media type."

The Gillespie teacher credits social media for marketing the skills of his students, and now business is booming.

"We have tons of customers," said Goldasich. "People are constantly giving us ideas. A lady gave us a picture on Pinterest and said 'can you build this for us?'"

Based on the Construction Trades Facebook page, the Gillespie students can build a lot of stuff: 2 decks, 13 sofa tables, 32 benches, 18 bookshelves, 17 office tables, and 35 wine racks. $22,000 in materials and donations have been made to the construction program.

The student-built products are turning a profit to buy more supplies to build more projects to keep the students learning

Some of the students have plans after high school to learn to be electricians or plumbers. Part of their training is improving their people skills, said senior Jacob Alepra.

"We're basically learning how to talk to people and translate things from what other people want into a project, how to satisfy the people's needs," said Alepra.

Gillispie, Illinois residents continue supporting a high school construction program turning out the next generation of tradesmen.

"Whatever the community needs," said Goldasich, "we try to service."


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