Christopher Gibat, Jr.
Christopher Gibat, Jr., never intended to become a teacher. When he attended the Adult Education HVAC class a year or two after high school, his goal was a vibrant career in the industry. He liked the class right away and made the decision to earn an Environmental Protective Agency Certification, which permitted him to work with refrigeration equipment. This provided him with the advantage he needed to obtain a job. “To get in with a company you needed experience, but if you don’t have experience, how do you get in? With a certification and a little experience through the ESBOCES Adult Education Program, employers took a more serious look at me,” he said. “I got a job right away.”
Chris started as a helper at a LI-based HVAC company, then moved up through the ranks over the years from junior mechanic to mechanic, where he was responsible for running jobs and training new hires. The experience of providing professional, industry-related instruction opened the door for him to transition into becoming a CTE teacher. Someone he knew told him about an opening for a teaching position at the Academy and Chris wanted to learn more. Said Chris, “I was not a teacher but I definitely have taught out in the field. I have taught new hires, many of whom have come from the Academy, and it was nice to see them grow.”
At that point in time he was looking for a change. He and his wife had just started a family and he wanted to take his career in a direction that provided for a different lifestyle. Chris interviewed and was hired to teach at the Harry B. Ward Technical Center in Riverhead. He is also currently taking online courses through Buffalo State University. He readily admits that he finds teaching fulfilling but that it is a lot of work. “I used to think, ‘If I could be a teacher, I would have all those days off, including summers. Man, it is so much work, but when your students get it, it is so rewarding.’ ”
Now, in addition to teaching his students about HVAC and urging them to earn as many certifications as possible prior to graduating from the program, he also points out the various career paths that exist inside the trades. Said Chris, “They can teach here, they can go on to college, they can go into engineering; there are so many different jobs. I always tell them to be open minded about different types of careers.”