Jason Pitts, Pearl River Community College’s welding instructor at the Forrest County Campus, has known fellow instructor Sam McNease since their childhood days.
McNease, Electronics Technology instructor at the FCC, has not only had to face the challenges of conducting class during the pandemic, but she also had a disability that requires her to teach class from a wheelchair.
Earlier this year when the weather was especially rainy, unloading her wheelchair from her truck while it was parked in the elements near her electronics lab behind the career-technical building became almost a daily challenge.
“I have known Sam since childhood,” said Pitts. “I came up with the idea from seeing Sam everyday park out in the weather with her wheelchair and having no cover.”
His idea was to construct a canopy just outside her electronics lab entrance so she could park and unload her wheelchair.
“It took us about three days of work to complete the project once the physical plant set the legs that were fabricated in the welding shop,” said Pitts. “This was for extra credit for the advanced welding class in the summer.”
The structure leg materials were donated to the college from Southern Waterworks Supply of Hattiesburg, which recently donated pipe and pallets of gaskets and fittings to the PRCC welding program.
Sad Pitts, who begins his sixth year at PRCC, “I want to say thank you to Southern Waterworks for donating the material and to the students that helped for a good cause.”
The PRCC students included Nick Canner, Micheal Salow, Albert DaPozzo, Louis Graham, Peyton Dunnam, Samuel Lawing, and William Peirpoint. Many of them recently graduated from the program and are now working.
McNease, who had been a PRCC instructor for three years, is appreciative of the welding program.
“I feel grateful beyond anything words can express,” she said. “Anyone independently mobile in a wheelchair knows that getting out in the rain is more than an inconvenience. Using an umbrella isn't an option, and loading/unloading a wheelchair is time consuming.
“I can't thank Jason, the students, and the maintenance crew enough for this major act of kindness.”
Added Pitts, “It feels great knowing that you can help someone out in need without them asking.”
Dr. James David Collum, Dean of Career and Technical Education at the FCC, believes Pitts and his students deserve a round of applause for their innovative, thoughtful and creative act of kindness for McNease.
“Jason saw an opportunity to teach his students a valuable skill while helping someone,” said Dr. Collum. “Jason is an outstanding Wildcat and this service to a fellow instructor reminds me why it is such a privilege to work somewhere like Pearl River.”
Members of the Pearl River Community College family are pictured in front of the canopy constructed for Sam McNease, Electronics Technology instructor. They are from left: Welding instructor Jason Pitts, Dr. James David Collum, Dean of Career and Technical Education at PRCC; McNease, and PRCC students Michael Salow and William Peirpoint.