Brian Hassel Jr. 0W1, a technology education instructor at Downingtown High School West, was named Top Teacher of 2020 by Main Line Today magazine.
Hassel said, “Receiving recognition is humbling because I was just doing my job. I love teaching and realize I was put on this earth to do it. I do it for the betterment of the students and society.”
Hassel, who studied carpentry at Williamson, realized half way through his junior year he wanted to become a teacher. “As I was showing underclassmen how to do things, I realized it was something I enjoy because I like helping others.”
After graduating from Williamson, he earned a bachelor’s degree in technology education at Millersville University and then taught at Garnet Valley Middle School before going to Downingtown.
He’s been teaching at Downingtown 15 years and is also involved with publications, including serving as co-advisor to the yearbook and student newspaper.
When explaining how a carpenter can end up doing publication layout, he said, “Doing layout for a publication sort of takes the same approach as a carpenter figuring out how to approach a project. You look at your project and then figure out how to do the layout.”
Hassel must be right when he says the two skills are related, in 2019, his yearbook was awarded a first-place ranking in the American Scholastic Press Association’s annual adjudication event, the fifth consecutive first-place ranking it received.
At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, he saved the school’s annual Art Show, which was on the verge of not taking place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “Each year ends with a giant art show, which, for the seniors is the culmination of four years of learning art. I wanted to create a sense of normalcy during the pandemic when everyone had gone home for virtual learning. I also wanted to see the seniors participate in this important event.”
He set up a digital platform, collected the work of the various artists, placed them on a website, and the art show took place.
Hassel also has done everything he can to promote the trades as an alternative to a traditional college degree. “I talk about the importance of a trade education every chance I get, to individuals and to groups.”
He also has done much to promote trade educations at Downingtown. For years, all of the trade programs were full with many students wanting to participate, but not being able to due to a lack of classroom space. For five years, he spoke with the principal about the fact that there were many students not being able to receive a trade education who wanted one. His efforts finally paid off, with the work space being doubled as well as the enrollment.
“As a trade person, I am proud of the results of my efforts. We now have an additional 118 students preparing for a career in the trades. There are many kids out there who would learn a trade if they had the opportunity.”
Hassel makes a point of saying that Williamson provided him with the foundation for everything he does in life.
Photograph by: Tessa Marie Images