PAULDING — When John Kennedy was hired as industrial technology instructor at Paulding High School (PHS) in August of 2019, he was surprised to find that some of the equipment being used in the shop was some of the same equipment he used during his high school days at PHS (1978-82).

Thanks to a recent generous donation from Eagles Aerie 2045 of Paulding, one piece of equipment has been greatly upgraded.

A donation of $4,999 from the Eagles, covered the purchase of new Laguna PX20 wood planer that was recently added to the shop. The planer will not only be used by students in his woods classes, it will be used by students in the agriculture education program.

“This is a huge improvement for our program here at Paulding Exempted Village Schools (PEVS), and it will make a lasting impact on the quality of projects our students will be able to produce,” said Kennedy, who has an automotive background. “The number of students choosing to take the classes our program offers keeps increasing every year that I have been here.

“I couldn’t be happier to know that I have the support of the community, and organizations like the Paulding Eagles, that believe in what we are trying to do here at PEVS,” added Kennedy. “Russel Rager, a friend, approached me about applying for the grant at the Eagles. The Eagles is such a great support to the community, and he (Rager, an Eagles member) knew we were struggling with our equipment.”

Kennedy, in his third year of teaching at Paulding, taught for 12 years at the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in Lima, specializing in automotive electronics, engine performance and computer control systems. Prior to teaching at UNOH, he spent 23 years as a senior master certified lead technician/shop foreman at Mark Moats Ford in Defiance.

He now teaches industrial arts, robotics, Computer Aided Design (C.A.D), and certified production/logistics technician classes. Kennedy’s motto: “Learning the skills that can pay the bills” hangs in the classroom portion of the industrial technology workshop at PHS.

“I saw a need to make a change and come back home to try and make a difference for our kids in this school district, and to have a chance to be more active in the community,” said Kennedy. “It has been a challenging transition going from teaching college-aged adults, to teaching middle- and high-school students, but these are my kids now, and I want them to have the best chance to not only learn skills, but have a place of refuge from the typical school day to express themselves.”

For Kennedy, coming back to work at Paulding High School was also an opportunity to spend more time with his wife, Amy, who worked in the cafeteria at Paulding High School. His arrival at PHS came following a breast cancer diagnosis for Amy. Working in Lima made it difficult for John to go to her treatments, but working at Paulding, just down the hall from his wife, made being there for her much easier.

“When I came here, the industrial technology program was suffering and the school couldn’t find anyone to do it, and my wife worked here at that time,” said Kennedy. “She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, so working in Lima meant I was gone most of the time. The first year I worked here (2019-20) we were side-by-side (the cafeteria and industrial technology room are down the same hallway), until COVID hit.”

High-school sweethearts, John and Amy graduated from PHS in 1982, and have been married for 40-plus years.

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