Most adults probably wouldn’t go back to high school – willingly, anyway. After a three-decade career as a professional welder, however, John Sinks headed back to the realm of bell schedules and pep rallies.
Sinks is a member of the PCC welding faculty and teaches concurrent enrollment classes at Pueblo County High School. He also teaches a weld certification class on the PCC campus. He became a teacher at PCC in 2017 after a career that included many years working in welding and nondestructive testing with two major Pueblo companies, Trane and Vestas (now CS Wind).
Sinks learned his profession from the same institution for which he now works.
“PCC helped me get the skills I needed to get a good-paying job during the most finically stressful times of my life, raising a family with three kids,” he said.
The high school environment suits Sinks. He sees every day how his classes provide something significant for his students.
“In my experience, a lot of high schoolers think that they are not cut out for college,” he said. “I feel introducing students to the college while still in high school with a group of their cohorts helps push some of the fears of college away.
“The welding program is something that the students want to be in, not something that they are forced to be in. They are up and moving around, releasing some of the bottled-up energy. They will do just about anything that is asked of them.”
Sinks recently was the subject of a County High Teacher Feature. The piece quoted an unnamed welding student who shared a little about Sink’s impact on them.
“He is one of the first teachers to treat me decent and like an adult,” the student said of Sinks. “John made his classes fun and interesting. He helped give me the best opportunity in life.”
Sinks is excited about passing along his extensive knowledge not only of welding, but of college and life in general. He takes pride in helping students learn a skilled trade that’s in great demand nationwide.
“I like being an example for my students. I struggled in high school; I was afraid of college,” he said. “I was able to push all that stuff aside and make a good life for my family and myself. Now I get to help others with the same struggles.”
After 30-plus years in the profession, an easier option might have been to transition into the role of a part-time worker or retiree, but Sinks saw teaching as a chance to create something new and meaningful.
“One of my favorite quotes is from Jon Bon Jovi: ‘Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.’”