The Whole Child: Riley Saganek, East Jordan High School, Welding student

Posted on November 2nd, 2021

During the Nov. 1, 2021, Area-Wide Professional Learning Day, Char-Em staff prepared a special video to share with regional educators demonstrating their impact on students and families. Each of the speakers represented one of the five tenets of the Whole Child philosophy: Safe, Healthy, Engaged, Challenged, and Supported. Parts of the speakers’ stories were compiled for the video.

This is the full story provided by Riley Saganek,  representing the Supported tenet.

Hi! I’m Riley Saganek, a senior at East Jordan High School – a place where I have definitely felt supported by the staff during my high school years. I’m an East Jordan native, and I’ve attended EJ schools my whole life. 

Growing up in a rural area, I had a sense from early on that I’d like a career involving the outdoors and possibly in farming, because I live on a farm with my family. You could say that I have not been a traditional student, because I really love to weld, and there are not a lot of females in this field. 

During my high school career, I have been enrolled in the welding class with Mr. Muladore every year beginning my sophomore year. That year, I was more interested in hands-on learning than taking a foreign language, and my school allows us to take a career tech program in place of language. So I enrolled in welding. At first, I was pretty nervous. I didn’t know anything about it, but Mr. Muladore quickly taught us safety lessons and basic skills of MIG welding, which is for smaller welds, and OAW welding, which is welding with a torch. Later in the class, we learned stick welding, which is the type you can do in any kind of weather and have the welds hold.

After a short time, I really came to enjoy welding and I really liked having Mr. Muladore as a teacher. He is amazing. With welding, you can get so aggravated sometimes because we are doing so many welds.  But he does not let you give up and lets you keep trying to get it right.

Last year, during my junior year, I advanced to level 2 welding. We learned horizontal and vertical welding. Students had some real-world experiences as well. Our autos teacher found an old doodlebug and we were able to practice welding the frame and seats on it. Our teacher encourages us to do things for the community as a class, so we have made things like bike racks, benches and even a metal art installation downtown East Jordan.

This year, I am taking four hours of welding with Mr. Muladore in Level 3. In class we are creating the metal welding booths that welders stand behind when they work. We are also learning TIG welding, which is a form of high-precision welding.  I often help other students in welding classes, and this past summer I worked as an assistant at the Welding Academy camp at East Jordan, which was a paid job and also great experience for me to help teach younger students how to weld.

Even though I could be prepared to enter the workforce in welding, I plan to go into agriscience and am interested in working on a farm. I have worked at Sherman’s orchard and have been learning different parts of business. I plan to attend Bay College in Escanaba next year and work toward my associate’s degree in agriscience. 

However, I know that welding will come in very handy in any career thanks to the skills I’ve learned in school. Mr. Muladore has really been a huge support for me over the years. One thing I really enjoy about his class is that he runs it like a shop, like it’s a real business. His expectations are super high for us to be on time, be prepared, and to clean up our work areas. He talks about life values and ethics, too, and the value of hard work and being kind to others.

He always says to finish up strong, and I plan to. 

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