Welding Teacher Inspired by a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Klein Oak Welding teacher Mr. Harley Hodges has been tirelessly committed to changing lives through teaching welding and creating an extraordinary learning environment for his students.
Mr. Hodges’ passion for welding goes back to when he was a child and saw Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the first time. He was fascinated by the character Chewbacca, who he witnessed welding on a spaceship. Young Mr. Hodges took that passion and quickly did his version of “welding” as a child.
“You know, welding was always fascinating to me,” Mr. Hodges said. “On the Fourth of July, I would take sparklers and pretend I was welding. I quickly learned that maybe someone would pay me to do that.”
Following his high school graduation, Mr. Hodges went straight to the field, working at a steel company.
“After about eight years of doing every other job under the sun, an older gentleman took me over and showed me some welding. And then from there, I’d weld every lunch break; I’d stay after work and weld scrap metal,” Mr. Hodges said. “So next thing, I’m welding and working for a couple of good companies.”
Though he was experiencing success, Mr. Hodges said he still had the “bug” to teach. Inspired by his wife, who is a teacher, Mr. Hodges felt he could start his journey to teaching in the classroom. Using Texas Teachers, the future educator was able to earn his alternative teaching certification and a position to teach welding at Klein Oak High School.
“This school, the admin, the counselors, the students, everything about it is unbelievable,” Mr. Hodges said. “I live in Deer Park and drive 52 miles to and from work each day—I’m happy to drive an hour every day to a place I love.”
When asked about his favorite part of the job, Mr. Hodges replied that the students keep him motivated and youthful.
“The fact that I get to teach kids is my favorite part of my job. They help me feel younger and keep me refreshed and going. I mentor them and hope they’ll mentor my children one day,” Mr. Hodges said. “Some have graduated and returned, and we’ve become friends. They’ve come into my home for barbecues and Thanksgiving. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so loved.”
Mr. Hodges is dedicated to giving each student a personalized CTE learning experience by meeting them where they are and helping them achieve their personal goals.
“I’m trying to make sure my seniors are on the right track to graduate, and I want to help them earn a certification in the level they are at,” Mr. Hodges said.
When he’s not teaching or welding, Mr. Hodges spends time with his family on the weekends. This educator loves to be on “Daddy Duty” and enjoys taking his children to the park and working on art projects with them.
Thank you, Mr. Hodges, for making the trek to enrich the lives of our Klein Oak Panthers. Your #KleinFamily is so grateful for you.
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Klein ISD has an established 84-year history of excellence and innovation in education with unique pathways for EVERY student in our care to ensure learners are college, career, military, and life ready. With recognition for STEM, athletics, fine arts, and academics from highly-esteemed organizations, it is clear that Our Shared Vision of every student entering with a promise and exiting with a purpose is a reality for EVERY student who walks through our doors.
About Klein ISD
Klein ISD is a school district in Klein, Texas, located in northwestern Harris County. The district spans approximately 88 square miles and serves more than 53,000 students in 33 elementary schools, 10 intermediate campuses, one high school program of choice, and 5 high schools.
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