TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Kenton Webb has been teaching welding at Marana High School for 12 years.
He describes his students' reactions to him the first year they take his class.
He said, “I come off a little intimidating because of my goatee and my deep voice, but once my kids get to know me they realize I'm just a big teddy bear.”
He’s a “teddy bear” who worked in the lucrative, but dangerous profession of steel and iron working for about a decade right after high school.
Kenton loved the challenge of building steel skeletons of massive structures.
“I enjoyed the danger factor as well. I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie so hanging multiple stories up in the air on small pieces of steel, just, I enjoyed it.”
He instills in his students the importance of safety and he's pretty strict about that.
Kenton says he builds lasting relationships -- and prepares his students to pass the welding certification test to enter the industry right after high school.
But for those who don't want to pursue that career, they leave knowing they've been taught a useful lifelong skill.
“Whether it's just a hobby or they need to fix something, they don't have to pay a high-dollar welder, they can do it themselves,” he chuckles.
This sometimes intimidating teddy bear is known to be humble.
After hearing he's one of the teacher of the year finalists “It kind of took me a few minutes, like let it sink in. Just knowing there are many more great teachers at our schools that deserve it just as much. To be honored, it's a great thing,” he said.