Top-Notch Equipment and Multi-Generational Experience Are Noxubee Construction Teacher’s Tools of Choice
John Bankhead poses in his Construction class shop in the Noxubee County Career and Technical Center.
Photos by Amanda Gronewold
For John Bankhead, construction is a family affair.
Bankhead’s father taught the Construction class in Noxubee County for about 20 years until the son replaced his mentor in 1997. Together, they operate a construction business.
“We build houses, churches — different things,” Bankhead, who currently teaches at the Noxubee County Career and Technical Center, said. “My whole life has been building trade or construction.”
Bankhead shares his combined business and construction experiences with his students, leading them in building dog houses, storage houses and similar projects to raise money for the class. He designs his classroom and workshop to reflect the ever-changing world of construction technology. Moving away from the stereotypical world of hammers and nails, he provides his students with experiences that closely resemble working on modern job sites.
The variety of saws — both in size and function — in Bankhead’s shop may surprise those without construction experience.
Miter, radiant arm, table and band saws are available for students to cut wood, along with a masonry saw for other materials, including brick and ceramic.
“The miter saw is one of the saws that we stress the most, because this is the saw that you could do a lot of different things with on the job site,” he said. “We teach the students how to cut to different degrees. This one is compound, so you can actually make two cuts at one time.”
Bankhead’s students learn to cut metal pipes and use a power threader to carve thread — grooves like the ones on a screw — into them.
“Students get a chance to cut, put the die on, put the threads on, deburr and learn how to run the flip pedal back and forth,” he said. “[They] have to learn how to use the oil to keep it from messing up the pipes on there.”
A drill press is used to cut holes through wood, metal and other materials.
“Say you’re making something and you want to put some dials in there — the drill press would be the tool to use to do that,” Bankhead said.
Two stories of scaffolding tower over the other equipment in Bankhead’s shop. He instructs his students on how to erect these temporary structures for use at multi-story job sites.
“We do all the bracing, all the toe boards, mid rails, top rails, platforms — everything,” he said.
When learning the art of masonry, students need a lot of mortar. Bankhead’s gasoline-powered mixer delivers it efficiently.
“You put all your water, sand and mortar mix in, and it’ll actually mix it up like a big cake batter mixer,” he said.
A construction shop can get very dusty, so the dust collection system provides extra ventilation to improve the air quality.
“It’s one of the things that you have to have in the shop,” Bankhead said.