“Wired” to Educate: Maintenance mechanic shares electrical knowledge with Loudonville students 

Sometimes those connections we make in life – even in an elementary hallway – can be fully charged with opportunity. Just ask Loudonville Elementary teacher Jen Dengler. When she saw North Colonie Central School District maintenance staffers Rick Doty and Adam Bouleris replacing an emergency exit sign she didn’t hesitate to approach them with a request.

“I talked about how our students are learning about generating electricity and electrical circuits, and they said they would stop by to show the group how the circuit in the sign uses stored energy if power goes out in our school,” Mrs. Dengler said. 

Rick Doty said that over the years, while in many North Colonie school hallways he’d been asked by students, “what are you doing on that ladder?” And he was always more than happy to explain. Mrs. Dengler took it to the next level. 

That recent spring morning, the maintenance mechanic and lifelong electrician stepped down from his ladder and was welcomed into Mrs. Dengler’s classroom. With Mr. Doty was fellow, but much less senior, maintenance staff member Mr. Bouleris who is a groundsperson, aspiring electrician, and Shaker High School Class of 2021 graduate. 

“They presented an AMAZING overview of how the system works to my fourth graders,” Mrs. Dengler said. “I asked them to speak on the spot – and am so grateful that they were receptive and engaging with the students in the lessons we were learning. 

“It was only a few minutes in my room, but what the students learned from them was exponential to the lesson. I can’t thank them enough for the real world application and engaging extension to my lesson,” Mrs. Dengler added.

NCCSD Maintenance Director Brian Craft explains that on Thursdays they had Mr. Doty spending time with Adam, “so Adam can learn some basic electrical skills. Adam does all the work, Rick advised him on what to do, and made sure Adam was staying safe. Both really enjoyed talking to the class and were thrilled to hear that it was well received.”

Mr. Bouleris said he learned as much during the impromptu class lesson as the actual students and felt he should have pulled up a chair alongside them. He said he enjoys working in the NCCSD and now has a goal to get certified in electrical work. “I’ve put a foot in and now want to put in a whole leg for the electrical department.”

“The real world connections they were able to make to Mrs. Dengler’s science lesson were invaluable,” Loudonville Principal Scott Thompson said in an email to Brian Craft. “Please let them know their efforts did not go unnoticed here.” 

Mr. Doty was days away from retiring at the end of March when he politely agreed to return to Loudonville to visit the students so a few photographs could be taken. Someone who is shy about receiving attention for what he felt was the right thing to do, Mr. Doty quickly demonstrated why his first visit was so memorable and well received.

Engaging. Interested. Impressed with what the student’s had accomplished, Mr. Doty assumed his “teaching” role with ease and the students clearly enjoyed the opportunity to pepper him with questions and show off the circuits they had built.

“It’s important we share what we do too,” Mr. Doty said. “It’s important they get to understand how we perform our tasks so when they come to a clean, modern, up-to-date facility they can then do their job and learn. I’m grateful to be able to share my knowledge and how I learned. It’s a way to give back.”