By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor
The man who pioneered the carpentry program at Cannon County High School is stepping down after eight years leading the course.
Ed Coates has resigned his position at the high school to dedicate more time to his private business, Coates Quality Construction (CQC); however, the decision didn’t come easily.
“I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve the students and families of Cannon County at Cannon County High School,” Coates said. “I consider it a privilege. I’m turning 50 and I looked at this as, ‘What am I going to be doing for the next 12 years? Can I give 100 percent to our students?’ My son wants to go in business with me so I just reached a point in life where you have to decide which direction to take. It was a tough decision.”
Coates started the carpentry program at Cannon County High School in 2006 and in his eight years developed young men and women who have excelled at the trade. Coates got his start in carpentry through an apprenticeship with Detroit Carpenters.
“I knew I had the experience and the background so I thought I could be an asset to the students in that way,” Coates said.
Seeing students learn and grasp the trade was Coates’ primary satisfaction. In fact, the carpentry shop at CCHS was primarily built by students.
“Students did 85 percent of the building on that shop,” Coates said. “Even today when students come in and I tell them it was students who built this, some may have no experience and think all of this is beyond their grasp, and then they start believing.
“When I got here we were working in that portable. It is not a very good working environment as far as teaching a skill. I knew we needed a new facility to teach and train. The building was huge for our program but seeing the pride of workmanship as the building went up was major for the students. They were the biggest part of that construction and it gave them a sense of pride.”
Coates’ students have built mini barns and picnic tables that have been sold in the community. The profits from those buildings go into the carpentry program and fund other projects. Students in the class also have performed concrete repair throughout campus and also were responsible for building the new ticket booths at the football field.
Several of those students earned Coates’ trust and respect to the point of putting them to work in the community.
“I use a lot of students on work I do in the community,” Coates said. “I have used current and former students and that really motivates them. They see what they have learned and apply it. You really see it all come together on a regular job site.”
Coates said the daily interaction with students and seeing them progress in the program is what he will miss most.
“I will definitely miss the relationships I built with the kids,” Coates said. “I have seen students come in and have no idea of what carpentry is about and to see their accomplishments and gratification, that is what inspired me. They have a spark in their eye when they accomplish something they thought they couldn’t. There is a sense of accomplishment that they learned a trade they can apply in areas of their life, whether they pursue this career path or not.”
Anyone interested in carpentry work can contact Coates at (615) 809-7695.