Golden Apple: Bill Cheatham

(Johnston, S.C.)

Talk about coming full circle. Bill Cheatham's career path has lead him right back to where it all started.

"I was in this same class in 1979, this same shop," Cheatham says. "I graduated from here, went out into the field, and worked all over."

But Mr. Cheatham wanted to teach. Now he gets to share his welding expertise with his students at the Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center.

"Every project that we put out of here tells me that these kids can do it if they want to do it.  They just have to have the attitude, and want to do it.  And they do. You give them book work, they're scared to death. But if you give them hands-on stuff along with it, they can do it all day long."

Today the students are making something that help farmers care for their livestock.

"This is called a hay cradle, for the cattle industry. They put bales of hay in it. They roll it, and pull 3-4 down the road at a time. They'll take it out to the field, cut it loose, the cows feed off of it and they pull it back."

Another important project that drives home another important life lesson.

"Hard work. In here, we get dirty and we get hot.  Y'all can see how hot it is in here right now.  We get sweaty. But they can do a trade and they can make a living using their hands."

Bill Cheatham. Welding expert, welding teacher, and friend. He's part of a great team at the career center keeping kids on the path to success.

"They have good days and they have bad days," he says. "They have home problems. They have school problems. I hear it all and I try to work with them all.  I've got kids right now, they don't know if they are going to come to school the next day.  I like to sit down and talk to them and listen to them, and I'd do anything in the world for them."


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