By Dave Ongie, Managing Editor
When Daniel Maupin walked out the doors of David Crockett High School and into the world, it wasn’t a journey he expected to come full circle.
Armed with a solid education, he walked right into a job as an entry-level machinist.
“Looking back now, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know when I first started,” Maupin said with a laugh.
Among the things he didn’t know was that his career in the skilled trades would eventually lead him back to David Crockett where he now helps young people chart their own career paths.
“When I graduated high school, I had no intention of being a teacher,” Maupin said. “It never crossed my mind. It wasn’t what I planned on doing.”
Although unplanned, teaching Advanced Manufacturing at Crockett has become Maupin’s mission, and he has plenty of real-world experience to draw upon as he helps his students learn the skills they need to be successful in the workplace.
Maupin got his foot in the door at Universal Tool & Engineering, where owner Manny Abraham offered him the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship program in tool and die making. The process wasn’t easy – Maupin had to arrive early in the morning two days a week to complete book work, study and take tests before working a full shift.
Maupin ultimately had to design a die in a CAD program, machine the parts, heat-treat it, surface-grind it, put it together and run it himself. The entire program took about four years, but when Maupin completed it, he opened up more opportunities for himself.
Maupin eventually moved on to work at a small shop that specialized in plastic injection molding. It was there where he met Jim Ellis, who became an important mentor. Leon Baker, who Maupin later worked for at CNC Equipment in Jonesborough, became another key mentor.
“I had some great guys along the way that took me in and helped me, taught me some extra stuff that they didn’t have to,” Maupin said. “I’ve always been appreciative of that, and I tell these kids if you’ll want to learn, there will be people there who will help you.”
After many successful years in the trades, Maupin received a phone call from his former shop teacher at Crockett asking him if he’d consider coming back to the school to teach. It was something Maupin had never considered, but trading the long hours in the shop that often included holidays was enough to draw him back to his old stomping grounds.
Once he arrived back at Crockett, he found the experience of teaching kids to be more rewarding than he could have imagined.
“I don’t take any credit,” Maupin said. “These guys come in and they want to learn and they want to work. I’m just a tool that helps them do what they want to do. I’ve had some great kids over the years that have worked really hard.
“The older I get, the more I realize I am where I’m going to be, but these guys are on a path. They’re still climbing the hill. They’re ambitious and want to get better.”
Maupin doesn’t attribute his teaching style to any one person. Instead, he believes he borrows bits and pieces from everyone who has helped him on his journey. The job has its ups and downs, but Maupin is always excited to get to school and teach the next generation the skills they need to succeed out in the real world.
“You have the heartbreaks, too, the kids who don’t turn out like you want them to,” he said. “That’s always frustrating, but you have the good ones that are engineers. You get invited to their weddings. Their kids are born and they bring them by and show them to you. That’s pretty cool.”