Growing up, Evan Thomas didn’t see many teachers that looked like him in school. He wants to change that for the next generation.

“One of my goals is to reach out to more minorities and be a mentor,” said Evan, a Core Plus Aerospace instructor at Pierce County Skills Center (PCSC). “If students see what I’ve achieved they know they can do it too.”

Delivering a remote, hands-on curriculum has been challenging during school building closures. Evan met this challenge by developing relationships and providing mentorship to keep students engaged. Evan also developed at-home learning experiences to engage students remotely that include students using critical thinking and math skills to make a suspension bridge that holds weight with popsicle sticks and glue.

Evan explored different paths to find a career he loves. After graduating from Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way, he completed an AJAC apprenticeship. He was a machinist at Boeing and a shop teacher at Hazen High School prior to teaching at PCSC.

“When I connect with students and see their joy, that’s all I need in this world,” Evan said. “I want students to know they matter and have options with the skills they learn in my class.”

He makes it a priority to get his students excited about their future. Every Friday, industry professionals from companies like Boeing talk to students about how their manufacturing skills can be used in the real world and answer questions about career opportunities and pathways. Students also participate in mock interviews with local industry employers, with the goal that students are ready to hire on the spot.

“The skills students learn and relationships they make open doors,” Evan said. “Core Plus Aerospace creates opportunities and brightens horizons for students.”