by Dr. John Gaal, director of training and workforce development, STL-KC Carpenters Regional Council
What does a teacher do when a student steals his sandwich and won't 'fess up?
If you were Dave Goetz, a St. Louis Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program (STL-CJAP) instructor at Jennings High School, you would put your lunch box in exactly the same place on the floor next to your desk the following day, and the next, and the next.
Because, as Dave Goetz told Scott Byrne, a friend and Carpenters business agent, "I think that kid may need that sandwich a lot more than me."
Scott Byrne related the story last Friday (May 12) at a memorial service at Carpenters Hall. It was one of many stories told about David W. Goetz.
Dave served as a cabinetmaker apprenticeship decades ago. He eventually went on to working in many aspects of finish carpentry in and around the Greater St. Louis area. Nearly 10 years ago, Dave became the Safety Trainer for Local 1596.
In 2012, he was asked to undertake a project that would promote the advanced manufacturing aspects of the industry in the Ferguson-Florissant School District’s McCluer High School (This pilot project was partially funded by MoDED’s Pathways to Prosperity grant. St. Louis Community College is also a strategic partner delivering targeted state-of-the-art curriculum.).
By August of 2013, Dave began teaching at-risk junior and seniors the art and science of his cabinetmaking trade. In 2015, McCluer graduated 11 students from the Advanced Manufacturing Middle Apprenticeship Program (AM-MAP). Under MoDESE’s rules, all 11 of Dave’s graduates were considered successfully placed. Four of those students were indentured in registered apprenticeship programs.
In the summer of 2016, the AM-MAP was transferred to the Jennings School District’s Jennings High School and was expanded to include carpentry. Dr. Art McCoy, Jennings superintendent, said that some of the kids entrusted to Dave were among those in the Jennings system with the most to overcome in terms of ingrained attitudinal issues.
In one instance Dr. McCoy recounted Friday, Dave let the students fail on their own terms and have to rebuild a project, so that they could appreciate the importance of precise measurements. Dr. McCoy also noted that the sole girl in a class of 12 was the first to be employed because of her can-do, positive approach to the program.
For about the past two years, Dave battled different forms of cancer. All during these struggles, he constantly put his high school students first; including refereeing high school soccer. On Monday, May 8, 2017, Dave passed away.
He was a great craftsperson, teacher, and mentor, and not just to his students. His minister said that, in addition to helping him understand the importance of meticulous craftsmanship in mounting crown molding, Dave also taught the pastor to wear ear and eye projection and to handle power tools safely.
Many speakers at this gathering, last Friday, told stories of how Dave was a kind and caring person. There is no doubt he will be sorely missed by family, friends, and colleagues. His daughter Gina told of how important his kids and grandkids were to him and recounted how he told her that she would go on after his death. For many of us in the St. Louis construction industry we will soon feel the negative impact of this loss.
Dave’s dedication to growing opportunities for traditionally underserved populations made him a pioneer. People of his character are few and far between. Hopefully, some of those students he reached will continue his legacy of helping others who need a chance… and in some cases, second and third chances.
Good-bye for now, my friend.