Krista Fogelsong: When you think of masks in the classroom, you typically think of the coronavirus right now. But a certain group of students have been wearing masks for years. It's not to prevent the spread of the virus, but to practice a specific skill: welding.
Jeff Butera: And while most senior years were kind of sidelined because of the Corona virus, there's a group at South Fort Myers High School that figured out a way to fast track their welding careers. Our Rachel Anderson gets us more on how they're doing it in our cover story.
Rachel Anderson: From workbooks to the workforce, these four new welders say, it's all possible thanks to their one of a kind teacher.
James Posey: It's a win, win situation for both of us.
Rachel Anderson: Four South Fort Myers High School students are on the fast track to success.
Ed Matthews: We're allowing our kids to help build up the community. They get to work with a craftsman who's been in the field for years and years.
Rachel Anderson: When COVID-19 hit, these students had to finish learning their trade from home. But today they've made it through.
Omar Pinto: Now with the COVID-19, a lot of my friends aren't able to go to college right now.
Rachel Anderson: Jumping right into the workforce at United Mechanical in Fort Myers.
James Posey: It has a lot to do with Mr. Greenwell working with them and kind of show them the ropes, building those work ethics.
Rachel Anderson: Mr. Greenwell students agree. They call him a teacher unlike any other.
Joshua Kolbe: Every single day that I walked in because the classroom was right next to the bus ramp, he's like, "how are you doing? How's life going? And are your grades up, like are you passing your classes?" And he was really adamant about me graduating. And I think that really pushed me all the way through.
Rachel Anderson: They say, without him, it wouldn't be possible.
Omar Pinto: I would go to his class and like, I'd mess up a lot, but he was always there to teach me good. And he'd be really patient and I'd go to a different classroom. And like it was just completely different.
Rachel Anderson: Mr. Greenwell came out of retirement to teach welding at South Fort Myers.
Tim Greenwell: My daughter's a teacher and she said, "dad do not do this because they're going to kill you. You stay retired."
Rachel Anderson: But he stuck with it.
Tim Greenwell: It's the best job I've ever had.
Rachel Anderson: All for the kids.
Tim Greenwell: Teenagers come into this high school....you just don't know what they bring that day. And so, and building relationships and giving them hope.
Rachel Anderson: Now he's giving them hope for their future beyond high school.
Joshua Kolbe: And I'm definitely excited to start that new chapter of my life.
Rachel Anderson: In Fort Myers, Rachel Anderson, ABC-7.
This story was originally published on ABC-7.com by Rachel Anderson on Monday, June 22, 2020 at 3:23pm.