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Friday, May 27th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Building for the future
Tri Star teacher retires after leading students for 34 years
CELINA - Dave Borger's resume of 27 homes built and sold for nearly $4.1 million might indicate he's a real estate developer. His actual job is developing students into quality workers.
Borger's students have the opportunity to do everything - lift rafters, frame windows, build walls, install wiring and plumbing and complete masonry work.
But even more important than the house built every year is that each student in his construction class at Tri Star Career Compact learns how to do something.
"We couldn't build a house like this without good kids," Borger said while standing in front of his latest project, a 1,680-square-foot home at 1604 Oxford Drive.
The teacher of 34 years will retire at the end of the month from a position he has held since the early 1980s. Prior to that he taught industrial arts at Celina City Schools.
"I do not think people realize how hard it is to take 17- and 18-year-old students and build a house," Tri Star Director Tim Buschur said. "Former buyers always say they have been very happy with their home, and you cannot go wrong with buying a Tri Star home built by Dave Borger and his class."
It takes a lot to build a house in just nine months.
"You got to be organized," Borger, 56, said about completing the project in a school year.
Unlike other career compacts that build homes with students enrolled in specialized trade classes, Borger's students learn almost everything required to build a home.
"To me that seems to be a much better approach," Borger said, adding that construction class allows the kids to work in many areas and may help them find their niche, whether it be general construction or carpeting.
All techniques are practiced in the Tri Star shop before they are attempted at the work site, Borger said. Plumbing, the most difficult trade for his students, became easier after implementing preliminary exercises in class.
Borger encourages his students to take ownership of the project. They're allowed to make some decisions on their own, such as choosing paint color or carpet or assisting in the house design if interested.
By Christmas, students begin picking up the pace, he said.
Borger said only one of his classes in the past didn't complete the house by the end of the school year. But every year is a struggle to finish as seniors get busy with other things as they finish high school, he said. This year's home is complete and will be auctioned off June 23.
The primary goal each year is safety, he said. The only major accident that has occurred over the years was a student with a cracked wrist.
Recently, a student from 15 years ago brought him a Mr. Goodbar and can of Diet Coke - two of Borger's staples while working on a house.
"It takes a lot of pop and doughnuts, cookies (to build a house)," he said.
He also talked with a former student who now owns his own construction business.
"I think he has made a big impact," Buschur said. "Just the other day I was talking to a person who's husband went through the program, and she says he still talks about the class many years later and how he (Borger) expected a student to work hard."
Borger plans to continue construction work in addition to backpacking and taking volunteer vacations - situations when a person works one day, such as clearing trails, and enjoys the site another day.
He will miss working with the kids and an enthusiastic faculty.
"But everyone has a time to go," he said.
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