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10 Questions with…Mr. Salgat

Mason Tallman

Mr. Salgat has been the welding instructor at Woodhaven High School for many years. He’s a very highly respected and educated man. In his free time, he loves to spend every second he gets with his family. He does everything with his grandkids and cares for them dearly. Mr. Salgat has been a very important person in the Woodhaven community and not just for welding. He’s always there to help no matter what. Sadly, after 38 years, he’s ready to hang up his hat of being a teacher and skilled welder to become a full-time family man.

What has being a teacher been like for you?

Being a teacher, I believe, has made me a better man. When you were at a school, you recognized that now you don’t fall under the same guidelines that others did. You’re a teacher. And if you do certain things, you can lose your job. So I was always more aware of that. You know, setting a good example to represent the school district. I don’t want to embarrass them. Certainly don’t want to embarrass your family. So I think being a teacher has made me a better man. The second part of that is certainly the kids that I’ve been with. You know how some people believe that you’re reincarnated and you slowly keep getting better and more fortunate every time. I feel like this is a reward, you know, for me, not doing so well in the past. But now I’m getting a reward. So yeah, education has been a blessing to me.

If you could go back in time, would you do things differently? Why?

If anybody could go back in time, they’d do things differently and for many reasons why. Mostly because whenever we say we’d go back in time, we’re doing it from the perspective of older eyes. You don’t say that when you’re seventeen. It’s relative. In truth, we are all who we are for everything we do. If you like who I am now, that means I might not have been able to change anything up until now. So I’ve never been a fan of thinking like that.

What has been a favorite aspect of teaching for you?

After the kids graduated, they became my friends. As I hoped they would. Very few people have friend mills, I have one at Woodhaven High School, my job. You realize how many people care about me and I care about them because they were my students. They started out that way. And you’ve had me now for two years, you know that I’m Mr. Salgat, I’m a nice guy. But we stopped short of being friends and buddies. But that doesn’t mean that can’t happen. You know, once you graduate, I don’t treat you like a high school kid anymore.

Why are you retiring?

Because I want to spend more time with my grandchildren. My son lives in Texas. That’s simple.

How long have you been welding for? Did you know you wanted to be a welding teacher?

I’ve been welding for almost as long as I can remember. Originally I was accepted and was going to go to Ohio State. Because only those two schools had engineering programs. So I went through that year. And then they did the same thing. They didn’t have the money to get everything they needed. And put it off one more year. And I decided to try and stick it out. And in doing that, I ended up with a degree in trade technical education. If I had to be honest, I didn’t go to school to become a teacher. I ended up with a teaching degree waiting for an engineering program. And then I met my ex-wife. And we decided to have a family before we got married. And that had me leaving school to get a job. Or I would have started in the fall of 84, the engineering program and I never would have been a teacher. That’s fate.

What comes after retirement? Do you have any major plans?

I was just offered a job today as a consultant. And what’s nice is it’s what’s called a no-show position. You strictly work mobile. And I’m going to entertain those opportunities. This one comes I’m afraid with a little bit of responsibility that I don’t want. And I’m sure I’ll find something that doesn’t have that responsibility that I’ll like. I have to do something. I mean, I won’t be able to be with my grandkids all the time. But in my first year, I’m gonna be working on my house.

Will you miss being a teacher or the teaching environment?

If I think about it, I will. And I’m gonna try not to think about it even right now. you have to prepare yourself for things in life. part of that preparation is mental preparation. You can jack yourself up or bring yourself down. And it’s not uncommon for people to feel mixed emotions, existential moments when they cross through big gates, you graduating, me retiring. These are things we’ve never done, things will do But once. Because you can’t retire more than once, after this, you just switch jobs. But this was a career this is a retirement

What is the easiest and hardest part about being a teacher?

The easiest part was communicating with the kids. The hardest part, nobody’s ever asked me that before, I’m drawing a blank. I could complain about the paperwork but it wasn’t hard, just tedious.

Did you ever have any job that didn’t involve welding?

The early Mr. Salgat was a pizza cook at Little Joe’s in Grand Blanc, Michigan, and I’m proud of that because that was the place. In other words, when I got that job, that was instant status. You work at Little Joe’s.? Yeah, it was cool. I made pizzas. And then a friend of mine whose dad owned a bowling alley. They built a brand new bowling alley, and they hired me to make pizzas there.

What would you tell someone interested in going into the welding and fabrication industry?

Be very, very specific. It’s not a very small room. It’s a universe. Everything’s different. You can pick good, you can pick bad. You can pick safe, you can pick dangerous. An educated decision is trade unions. The people to keep you safe. They don’t let people get hurt. They fight for safety. A lot of the things I teach to you guys was about safety. Some welding jobs don’t even go near those doors. They don’t care about you, or what happens to you. That’s when our industry becomes unsafe. That’s why some people look at it like why are you going into welding? I don’t blame them. There are places out there that would say the same. Nothing is unilateral. Nothing’s across the board. Nothing’s a blanket statement. Welding is safe, welding is dangerous. Cosmetology is safe, cosmetology is dangerous.


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