Cal-Mum teen gets a ‘lift’

Submitted photoFrom left, Ryan Ditacchio, Jeff Fronk, Andrew Geyer and Rodney Staats join Geordan Mitchell, front.

BATAVIA — Booker T. Washington once said, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

This saying rings true when describing a recent project that Metal Trades and Collision, Custom and Restoration Programs at the Batavia Career and Technical Education Center recently completed to benefit a student.

Geordan Mitchell, a junior from Caledonia-Mumford High School, is a student in the Metal Trades Program at the Batavia CTE Center, officials said in a news release. He is disabled and in a wheelchair.

Both Andrew Geyer and Rodney Staats, the Metal Trades Instructors at the Batavia CTE Center, worked to develop modified lessons for Geordan, but they still wanted to develop a way that Geordan could work with all the machines in the Metal Trades shop.

They met with Maggie Poray, the Student Services Coordinator at the Batavia CTE Center, to brainstorm ideas. She asked the instructors if there was a way to construct something so Geordan could reach the equipment in a manner that was easier for him.

“We knew that we had to be creative in how and what was developed and most importantly, whatever was developed had to be safe,” Poray said.

Geyer and Staats reached out to Jeff Fronk and Ryan Ditacchio, the Collision, Custom and Restoration Program Instructor and Teacher Aide, respectively, and asked for their assistance.

That evening, Ditacchio was searching Facebook Marketplace for equipment for his personal use and came across a cart that had a lift. Ditacchio thought this might work if it could be modified for Geordan’s use.

“I showed the Facebook posting to Jeff, Andrew and Rodney. We agreed that this could be a possibility but we knew that we weren’t sure how we could make this purchase. I reached out to the owner, explained the story and he gladly donated the cart,” Ditacchio said.

Ditacchio picked up the cart from the donor, who requested to remain anonymous, and brought it back to the Batavia CTE Center.

Then the work began.

“We had to figure out a way to make it moveable so we could make it tall enough for Geordan and also move it from machine to machine,” Geyer said. “I contacted our Operations and Maintenance foreman and he gave us four caster wheels. A new wooden platform was added, the welding students joined the wheels, made a few brackets, cleaned it up and then we sent it over to the CCR shop for a custom painting.”

The cart has a ramp so Geordan can push himself onto the platform which rises up and down. The cart moves easily for access to machines throughout the shop, and it also has a work table for Geordan to place tools.

“When I first saw the cart, I was shocked. I was excited because now I can finally easily touch the buttons on the machines,” Geordan said with a big smile on his face.

“Last September, we constructed a table so Geordan could learn and practice his welding skills. This cart will now allow Geordan access to all the machines in the Metal Trades shops,” Geyer said. “We want to give Geordan the best experience possible and this new mobile lift is the perfect solution,” Poray added.

Geordan recently completed a project, a set of metal dice.

“Now, I’m working on a step shaft,” Geordan said.

“This is a practice project that helps the students understand how to use a lathe and helps students practice their skills,” Staats said.

This new cart has given Geordan new opportunities, which has renewed his enthusiasm.

“I’m definitely happier to come to school,” Geordan said.

“He’s more independent and more self-sufficient, and we see the difference,” Staats said.

Both Staats and Geyer agree that Geordan always gives 100 percent effort in both the Welding and Precision Machining Programs.

“He has a great attitude toward everything,” Geyer said.

Fronk emphasized the importance of building relationships with students to understand their needs and the need to be creative when developing solutions to assist students.

“We would do this for any student who needed assistance,” Fronk said. “We would love to be a resource for anyone who might need something like this. We also will be adding more features to the cart to make learning even easier for Geordan.”

Geordan has set many goals for himself.

“I plan to get a job and work as a welder,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1