GCHS Teacher of the Year Wylie Messer Focuses on Relationships and Skills


Skylar Hamon

Wylie Messer is Scott County Schools first welding teacher, as well as the 2021 Teacher of the Year for GCHS.

Skylar Hamon, Staff Reporter

Walking downstairs into class, you see unfamiliar faces and mechanical equipment: cords, metal, grinders. You hear loud bangs, running machines and students equipped with helmets, safety glasses, and gloves. You have arrived at the welding lab. The door slams shut, but then you are finally greeted with a smiling face, Wylie Messer, Scott County district’s first welding teacher, who is ready to make a difference for many students enrolled in Great Crossing High School’s welding pathway.  

Messer started his interest in welding after he took the class at Garrard County High School. “I started taking a welding class as a way to get out of normal classes, such as geometry and chemistry. I then found out that I was really good at them, and I then pursued welding after that,” he explained. 

After taking a welding course at Garrard County, he started his first welding job at a mining manufacturing plant as a welder while he was still in high school. Immediately after graduation, he began his professional work as a welder. “I officially started my career as a traveling welder.  I now have a total of 15 years of welding experience in the field.” As a traveling welder, he was on the go, working in Canada and Mexico. One year, he was only home for a total of thirteen days due to the consistent travel.

However, while Messer decided travel welding full time wasn’t the career for him, he wasn’t finished with the field. He decided to transition into teaching. “My high school welding teacher made a big impact on my decision, and the more and more I got into my career as a welder, it became more relevant that teaching was what I wanted to do.” 

Three years ago, Messer began his second career. “I taught at the Department of Juvenile Justice for a year and a half, and this year is rounding off my second year at Great Crossing.”

Messer is a great welding instructor, but not only that, he teaches us life skills: time management, discipline, and how to interact with other people. He shows us how the trade would be out in the field and the problem-solving skills we need to be great welders.””

— James Shelton, GCHS senior

Messer makes every effort to make his students feel welcome. He advises that it makes teaching a hundred times easier. “The connection to your students allows them to feel important in your class; without that connection, the students aren’t going to pay attention in class. Like how a sub is not given respect because the students are just given information with no connection.” 

The relationships he develops with students do not go unnoticed and are much appreciated. Abigail Morgan, a senior at GCHS said, “He has made the greatest positive impact on my life out of any teacher I have had. I know that if I ask for his guidance, he would be more than happy to help and would go above and beyond to provide me with the resources I need to succeed.”

James Shelton, also a senior at Great Crossing said, “Messer is a great welding instructor, but not only that, he teaches us life skills: time management, discipline, and how to interact with other people. He shows us how the trade would be out in the field and the problem-solving skills we need to be great welders.”

During this chaotic year Wylie Messer was selected Teacher of the Year for GCHS. “It’s really weird, because I don’t feel like a teacher most days. I don’t feel like I do anything extra; I just do what students need. When in class, it’s not always about welding, sometimes it’s just how to get through life,” Messer said.

GCHS Principal Joy Lusby is excited about the direction that Messer and the welding program are headed.  “Mr. Messer is developing a stellar welding program from the ground up in a brand new school and doing a fantastic job!  He continues to build great relationships (and trust) with our students.  Mr. Messer is teaching our students a lucrative skill they’ll have for life!  The products coming out of our welding department are amazing. We look forward to sharing some of them with the community very soon!” Lusby said. 

As teacher of the year, Messer offered this advice to other new teachers.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about staying until 6 at night. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your students.” 

Messer also believes that it is very important to make connections with students and encourages other teachers to build those up. “Just have a general, meaningful conversation, and take it further then just knowing their favorite candy. Genuinely care about your students and ask how they’re doing. Don’t ask empty questions.” The effort invested in building relationships with others will have benefits both inside and outside the classroom.