“I am never asked ‘When am I going to use this in the real world?’ Students know. It is practical, hands on, creative, and satisfying.”

Ashton Bohling has been the industrial technology teacher at Johnson Brock High School for the past two years. With a background in agricultural education and previous teaching experience in welding, Bohling came to Johnson Brock’s small, rural program with a good foundation to cover the many subjects she teaches now. To fill in some gaps, she reached out to previous college instructors, construction companies, hobby woodworkers and mechanics, continuing her own learning in the process. Bohling is an advocate for continual learning and improvement, and has earned a Biology Endorsement, a Work Based Learning Endorsement, and a Masters of Applied Science.

Bohling brings her sense of continuous learning and improvement into the classroom to shape her students’ experiences. She balances giving students plenty of leadership opportunities as ‘foremen’ in their building groups with bringing in outside experts, like local construction businesses, to give pointers on projects and best practices. By creating a solutions-based culture in her shop, Bohling has seen students brainstorm and create their own projects in addition to her curriculum, including developing small engine tool kits, redesigning oxyfuel stations to save space, and creating tool hangers for each welding booth to keep track of tools. Grounded in the philosophy of continuous improvement, projects like these augment and create a strong foundation for Bohling’s core curriculum, such as disassembling and reassembling engines to learn parts’ function and theory, or completing a weld list developed with local manufacturing businesses. Completed projects are often showcased to the community at the school’s spring open house and awards ceremony. Bohling and her students also developed a lawn mower maintenance business out of the program’s shop so her agribusiness students can get a mix of hands-on work while also learning sales, marketing, pricing, invoicing, and other business principles in real time.

This past year, Bohling established the first Johnson Brock Skilled and Technical Sciences Advisory Council. Composed of six local industry professionals and three current students, the council aims to identify skills necessary to prepare students to enter the workforce, identify employment/work based opportunities for students, and identify further learning opportunities for Bohling herself to keep up with industry standards. The council has been highly effective in fostering relationships and networking between students and local community employers, leading to job shadows, interviews, field trips, apprenticeship programs, and part time or summer jobs where students can apply their skills. She notes that, “by connecting students with local industry, students are more likely to stay local which is vital to our small community.” Bohling has also worked with her principal to implement a Work Based Learning program in the coming school year, which will give students the opportunity to work in an industry of their choice for two and a half hours out of the school day for further real-world experience.

Bohling previously was a finalist for the 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence.

“Students should understand that we are all learners and learning doesn’t end after high school. We are constantly working to improve our problem-solving skills.”