Picture of Steven Thomas, reading High School Teacher Achievement Award winner, Green County Area Technology Center

Steven Thomas didn’t take the “traditional” route to become the educator he is today.

After graduating high school, Thomas did not initially attend college with the goal of becoming a teacher. Instead, he chose to apply the skills he learned in his agriculture classes, under teachers William Wallace Evans and Matt Chaliff at Taylor County High School, to pursue a career in welding.

After 10 years of working in welding, Thomas decided he wanted to influence the lives of students.

Thomas began working at the Green County Area Technology Center in 2012 and has been teaching high schoolers to weld there ever since.

“Going straight into the workforce out of high school allowed me to see more of the world and what all it takes to create and sustain what all we have today,” he said. “I feel coming from working in the field of welding and running my own welding business is what has helped me to best prepare my students.”

Thomas puts strong emphasis on hands-on learning, community projects and allowing students to network with people and companies that will benefit them in a career after high school.

“We take on many projects for our industry partners, individuals and the community,” he said. “Students get the experience of working with real industrial blueprints and welding on industrial parts. Once my students are ready to graduate, they already have a relationship with potential and future employers.”

Thomas has earned an associate and bachelor’s degree in vocational education from Western Kentucky University and a master’s degree in education administration from Murray State University.

He has received the Golden Apple Award from Green County Schools, the Teacher Who Made a Difference award from the University of Kentucky and the Change Award from Campbellsville Independent Schools. He was also named a 2023 Kentucky Teacher Achievement Award winner.

Above all else, Thomas strives to be a supportive and influential figure in the lives of his students.

“I try to instill the ideas of hope and purpose first, and teach them a useful trade skill secondarily,” Thomas said. “Show students real-life value in your content. Give them a reason to hope for better things, a push to excel in life and inspire them to never settle.”