News

School of Masonry exceeds goal for capital fundraiser

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Masonry Skills being taught at the Maine School of Masonry. Photo credit: Ramona du Houx

Article in the Daily Bulldog

By Ramona du Houx

On Nov. 13, the Maine School of Masonry received a $5,000 grant from The Sugarloaf Charitable Trust for their capital campaign to help expand the Historic Restoration and Preservation facilities at the school.

“We’d like to thank the Sugarloaf Charitable Trust for their generous grant. Our work converting part of the school to accommodate our restoration courses can now be completed,” said Stephen Mitchell, president of the MSM. “We live in such a blessed community. I’d like to thank everyone who stepped up to the plate and donated. It’s humbling. We’re looking forward to teaching more students in the art of historic restoration and preservation.”

With the expansion MSM will now be able to enroll more students into the Historic Renovation and Preservation courses in the coming years. Anyone interested should contact the school now at 639-2392 or visit their website at masonryschool.org as interest in these classes is high.

With individuals, non-profits and business giving generously MSM raised $9,100 and with the value of the materials donated surpassed their goal of $8,000.

“Maine students deserve the best, and having a classroom that meets their needs for the renovation and preservation programs is vital to the mission of the Maine School of Masonry, and our community. After 12 years we’ve expanded in a direction that is unique—preserving our National Heritage, while giving students opportunities for high paying life-long professions.”

The classes take the students on site to practice what they have learned in the newly expanded facilities in Avon. The buildings that the students work on are listed as National Historic Landmarks and the school has special permission to renovate these historic treasures.

MSM is the only school to offer courses of this kind in America.

“Seeing students on site at the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta, and Fort Knox near Prospect makes me so proud knowing they’re keeping our heritage alive,” said Mitchell. “It’s a dream come true for me.”

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On site at the Kennebec Arsenal pointing the side of the Baracks

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On site at Fort Knox mixing mortar for restoring the building

Homeschoolers enjoy a day learning masonry at the Maine School of Masonry

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From the Daily Bulldog

AVON – During October the Maine School of Masonry hosted a daylong event where local home schooled students learned the basics of masonry.

MSM made way for the home-schooled students to have their own stations in the workshop. There the students worked on individual projects under the careful watch of instructors and senior masonry students.

“It’s always great to see the enthusiasm kids have for masonry,” said Stephen D. Mitchell, the director of the school. “It’s great how they absorb the lessons. There’s nothing like a little hands on learning to spark their interest.”

MSM has an ongoing open invitation to schools throughout the state to visit the campus to learn more about masonry. While at MSM visiting students will be given a demonstration in masonry and offered a chance to do their own hands-on project.

Mitchell opened MSM in 2005. Since then, he has taught students the fundamentals of laying brick and stone work empowering every one who graduates with the skills to start their own masonry business, or to obtain a professional job in the business, after nine months of instruction. The school’s new program in Historic Renovation and Preservation is the only course of its kind in the country giving students hands on learning experiences at National Historic Landmark locations, such as the Kennebec Arsenal and Fort Knox. The techniques students learn on site enable them to help preserve this country’s heritage for future generations.

Visit: www.masonryschool.org for more information.

 

Stephen D. Mitchell instructs a homeschooler.

 

Maine School of Masonry welcomes homeschoolers.

U.S. needs more tradespeople – after decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees

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by MATT KRUPNICK, of THE HECHINGER REPORT
August 29, 2017

FONTANA, Calif. — At a steel factory dwarfed by the adjacent Auto Club Speedway, Fernando Esparza is working toward his next promotion.

Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He’s taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages.

It’s a pretty safe bet. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That’s in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.

Now California is spending $6 million on a campaign to revive the reputation of vocational education, and $200 million to improve the delivery of it.

“It’s a cultural rebuild,” said Randy Emery, a welding instructor at the College of the Sequoias in California’s Central Valley.

Standing in a cavernous teaching lab full of industrial equipment on the college’s Tulare campus, Emery said the decades-long national push for high school graduates to get bachelor’s degrees left vocational programs with an image problem, and the nation’s factories with far fewer skilled workers than needed.

“I’m a survivor of that teardown mode of the ’70s and ’80s, that college-for-all thing,” he said.

This has had the unintended consequence of helping flatten out or steadily erode the share of students taking vocational courses. In California’s community colleges, for instance, it’s dropped to 28 percent from 31 percent since 2000, contributing to a shortage of trained workers with more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. Continue reading “U.S. needs more tradespeople – after decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees”

Maine’s Masonry School needs your help

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AVON – Driving on the road to Rangeley some passengers may wonder what The Maine Masonry School is as they zip past the building with an iconic sign. If they took the time to stop they’d discover the country’s only private, non-profit masonry school. That’s right, the only one.

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 12.57.17 PMSince 2005 hundreds of students have learned the fundamentals of laying brick and stonework from instructors who bring out the talents of individuals as they build different projects in the workshop or on location.

“They bring out a students creativity, giving us the freedom to express ourselves. Going there paves the way for a multitude of career opportunities,” said Chandler Ellis, who graduated in 2017.

Every year the school has been fighting an ongoing battle, as masonry is tragically becoming a lost skill, while the demand for masons is ironically incredibly high. But the school is making a difference as students become skilled craftspeople after a nine-month 1,200-hour certificate program and are placed in jobs every year or start their own business.

“The school gave me the knowledge and skill I needed to go into business. I learned so much about masonry and with each project my confidence grew. It’s a great school,” said Tyler Kachnovich, class of 2016 whose business is T&T Landscape and Masonry.

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When there is a need to add new material to the curriculum they have always been on the cutting edge. Just last year the school answered the need for Historic Preservation and Renovation with new program.

All across the country historic buildings are in need of renovation because there is a shortage of trained quality craftspeople to do the needed repairs and restoration work.

This unique Renovation and Preservation program has been extremely well received and the demand for space in the classes is high.

“Historic buildings surround us in New England but most people don’t realize there is a shortage in skilled craftspeople that can renovate and preserve these majestic monuments. Each building represents an important time in our history and needs to be preserved for future generations,” said Stephen Mitchell, Maine School of Masonry founder.

“Our classes give a new generation the skills needed to keep our history alive, as well as high paying jobs. Richard Irons, of Irons Masonry, has been an advisor for our program and on site specialist. With 38 years of experience under his belt working along side him gives our students instruction they can’t get anywhere else.”

Irons was awarded the Maine Historic Preservation Award in 1998 for “his excellence in historic restoration, his craftsmanship and dedication to the preservation of Maine’s irreplaceable architectural history.”

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In partnership with the owners of historic landmarks and with the state’s approval, these classes have already begun work on restoration and preservation projects at the Kennebec Arsenal, Fort Knox, The Old Wiscasset Jail and Rangeley’s Historical Society.

But there is an obstacle to overcome to successfully continue the program.

After 12 years, the school is in need of its own renovations to accommodate these new classes with upgrades to its facilities. In addition, last winter was brutal on the school’s buildings and vital repairs are needed.

With the new classes set to start this fall work needs to begin refitting the school immediately.

The school needs immediate help with donations to help with the school’s renovations for our new classes.
Materials can also be donated and are tax deductible.

Materials needed to upgrade the facilities for renovation/preservation classes include:

  • Insulation
  • Sheet rock
  • White paint
  • Wooden flooring
  • A new furnace or a new heating source (they really want to use a more clean energy source)
  • A mobile home (As students will be working on site at the locations listed above some historic locations are far from Avon and having a mobile home will save the classes the commute.)

Donated materials can be dropped off at the school any time.

Some students have already signed up for the fall classes, including Ellis, knowing once they’re trained in historic renovation and preservation they could earn over $75,000 per year.

“And they’ll be able to tell their grandchildren they took part in saving a piece of American’s history,” said Mitchell.

Key supporters of the school’s Historic Renovation and Preservation coursers include Richard Irons, Maine Preservation, Greater Portland Landmarks , Main Street 1 and Niemann Capital. The school can be reached at masonryschool@tds.net

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Go to their GofundMe campaign Here.

Help Students Continue to Learn Masonry Skills

Posted July 27, 2017, at 12:47 p.m.

After twelve years of successful operation, the Maine Masonry School is in need of its own renovations so they can educate new students in the art of renovation and historic preservation.

To accommodate these new classes the school’s facilities need upgrades. In addition, last winter was brutal on the school’s buildings and vital repairs are necessary.

With the new classes set to start this fall work needs to begin refitting the school immediately.

More about the courses that need to be saved— 

All across the country historic buildings are in need of renovation because there is a shortage of trained quality craftspeople to do the needed repairs and restoration work.

In 2016, the Maine School of Masonry started Renovation and Historic Preservation courses giving students specialized skills sets that command high earnings. This unique Renovation and Preservation program has been extremely well received and the demand for space in the classes is high.

“Historic buildings surround us in New England but most people don’t realize there is a shortage in skilled craftspeople that can renovate and preserve these majestic monuments. Each building represents an important time in our history and needs to be preserved for future generations,” said Stephen Mitchell, Maine School of Masonry founder.

“Our classes give a new generation the skills needed to keep our history alive, as well as high paying jobs. Richard Irons, of Irons Masonry, has been an advisor for our program and on site specialist. With 38 years of experience under his belt working along side him gives our students instruction they can’t get anywhere else.”

Richard was awarded the Maine Historic Preservation Award in 1998 for “his excellence in historic restoration, his craftsmanship and dedication to the preservation of Maine’s irreplaceable architectural history.”

In partnership with the owners of historic landmarks and with the state’s approval, these classes have already begun work on restoration and preservation projects at the Kennebec Arsenal, and Fort Knox.

More about the school—

The art of masonry is tragically becoming a lost skill in a time when the demand for masons is incredibly high. Since 2005 the country’s only private non-profit masonry school has been trying to change that by teaching new generations in the craftsmanship of masonry.

For over a decade, students have learned the fundamentals of laying brick and stonework with instructors who bring out the talents of individuals as they build different projects in the workshop or on location. Students become skilled craftspeople in just nine months, in a 1,200-hour certificate program and are placed in jobs every year.

Key supporters of our Historic Renovation and Preservation coursers are Richard Irons, Maine Preservation, Greater Portland Landmarks , Main Street 1 and Niemann Capital. The Maine School of Masonry is a non-profit 501(c)3 private school and helps Veterans attend the school through government programs.

The school needs immediate help with:

• Donations to help with the school’s renovations for our new classes. Their goal is $8,000.

• Materials can also be donated and are tax deductible.

Materials needed to upgrade their facilities for renovation/preservation classes:

• Insulation

• Sheet rock

• White paint

• Wooden flooring

• A new furnace or a new heating source (we’d like to use a more clean energy source)

• A mobile home to use on location. (Instructors and students will be working on site at the locations listed above. A mobile home would help the school tremendously, saving them from commuting back and forth from Avon.)

Donated materials can be dropped off at the school any time.

As the instructors and students are currently on location working on historic renovations please contact Dori at the school and arrange a time to visit them on location, so you can see first hand how important continuing these classes are for all our futures.

Maine School of Masonry, 637 Rangeley Road, Avon, ME 04966, masonryschool.org

Please send a check to the school or contribute at the school’s GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/help-masonry-school-continue-course

Thank YOU!