December 2007: Making the Grade

Words: Dan KamysDecember 2007

Mentoring a Mason

Student finds role model in Williamson masonry instructor

Daniel Hiltebeitel

Daniel Hiltebeitel must be doing something right. As a masonry instructor at the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Media, Pa., he has sponsored a student in the SkillsUSA National Masonry Contest for the last eight years. Six students placed, and two earned first-place honors, including this year's post-secondary division gold medal winner, Michael Wagner.

Wagner was first introduced to Williamson Free School by his football coach at Elkton High School in Elkton, Md. Upon visiting the school, Wagner was impressed by the projects the masonry students were building, so he applied to the program. Once enrolled, he wrestled, served as class treasurer and was a member of the student council. He specialized in technology and graduated with a 3.74 grade point average. Wagner's other achievements include receiving the Good Citizenship Award from the Sons of the American Revolution and being recognized by Junior Achievement. His hobbies are playing guitar, building computers and participating in sports.

Why mentoring matters

One of four siblings, Wagner was raised by a single mother. He says his heroes are "Jesus Christ, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George W. Bush and anyone willing to help those who are weaker than they are." [caption id="attachment_12848" align="alignright" width="250"]Michael Wagner enjoyed the benefits of a mentor to help guide him as a mason. Michael Wagner enjoyed the benefits of a mentor to help guide him as a mason.[/caption] With such strong philosophies and values, it's no surprise that Wagner became a mentor for freshman students at Williamson Free School.

Wagner found a mentor, too, in his instructor. "Mr. Hiltebeitel taught me everything," he says. "He taught by constant repetition of hands-on skills and excellent textbook theories. He has been a very positive father figure to me and has shown me that the building trades are a vital and respected part of the U.S.A."

During the summer of 2006, Wagner was a self-employed mason. He is currently employed as an assistant superintendent with Whiting & Turner Contracting Co. in Towson, Md.

Wagner's personal future looks just as bright as does his professional future. He is engaged to his high school sweetheart, Liz Foreman, whom he will wed in June 2008.

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