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Graham high school construction teacher honored for leadership, work ethic

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GRAHAM, N.C. -- There's one class at Southern Alamance High School with a waiting list to get in.

And there's one reason for that -- teacher Randy Faulkner.

"I've been very blessed. I had two jobs I love," he said. "Building houses and teaching."

Faulkner started his teaching career more than 30 years ago. But he left the classroom after 9 years to start his own business.

"I wanted to build on my own and that's why I left teaching the first time. That was a hard decision.."

But in those years he often saw his impact on his students.

"All my subcontractors that worked for me were my former students. They dug my footings. They put in the insulation. I bought my shingles from them. I bought my windows from them. They built my cabinets."

And while he enjoyed building homes, his heart was still in the classroom. So when a position opened up at Southern Alamance High School in Graham, he jumped at it.

"I just want to give back to the industry that gave me what I got."

He's in his fourth year back and has built the program at Southern Alamance to be one of the best in the state.

"He wants it done right but he'll talk you through it and make you understand why he wants it right," said senior Nathan Aldridge. "He's a good guy. Good teacher."

And that's why he was recently named the North Carolina Home Builders Association Construction Trades Teacher of the Year.

"It is a great recognition. But we got people here in the county and other carpentry teachers here. They are just as deserving too."

The key to his success? He approaches teaching like he did building.

"When I get there at the job you got a stack of lumber and its laying there. When you get there you can say, 'man, I built this,'" he said. "It might be something simple, it might be something complex, but you say hey, I did this."