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Ralph Hauser - District CTE Pioneer

Ralph HauserNorth Thurston graduates lead the way in automotive education

When you think automotive education in the South Sound, one name always comes to mind – Ralph Hauser. Hauser, who passed away at the age of 92, was hired to start the industrial arts program, including wood, metal and auto shop courses, at the new North Thurston High School in 1955. As the program added new teachers, Hauser soon specialized in teaching only auto shop. During his tenure, Hauser coached three Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest state championship teams, who then went on to several national competitions. Hauser retired in 1982 and made a difference in the lives of many graduates. Here are just a few:

  • Ralph was very proud that several of his students became auto shop instructors. One of them, Brian Stretch is the current instructor at NTHS, a 1979 graduate. Stretch continues the tradition of coaching championship automotive troubleshooting teams and delivering many qualified students starting their careers as automotive technicians in shops all around the area.
  • Dave Boos (NTHS 1968), was also a student of Hauser’s. Boos worked in the automotive industry for a while before beginning his career as an instructor at New Market Skills Center. Boos has also seen his students enjoy success and has had several do very well in SkillsUSA competitions in years past, including moving on to national championship competitions.
  • Carl Schlegel (NTHS 1973), was yet another one of Ralph’s students. After leaving high school and going to work in the automotive industry, Schlegel eventually found his way into teaching the Automotive Apprenticeship Program at SPSCC for several years. Andy Nydam, who took Hauser’s place when he retired in 1982, along with a former NTHS Principal, Kay Thomas, gave Schlegel the push he needed to get into the classroom. Schlegel says they kind of tricked him into it by first getting him to be a volunteer on his day off from his regular job. Shortly after that, Nydam turned over the reins of the Apprenticeship Program he had been training Schlegel in and his teaching career began. That career has now led him to River Ridge High School, where he has been teaching Automotive for the last 7 years. Nydam also trained Carl for teaching Material Science, which is now a large part of his teaching assignment.
  • Jerry Globe (NTHS 1974) also got his start in Ralph Hauser’s Automotive Class. Globe went on from NTHS to working locally in the automotive industry before starting his own business in the Enumclaw area. After many years, Globe sold his business and became the automotive instructor for Enumclaw High School. Jerry also started up an Electrathon Race Team for his school. He comes to Lacey every May to compete with the team from River Ridge and other schools from around the Pacific Northwest.
  • Andy Nydam’s student, Mark Emmons (NTHS 1988), teaches Automotive at New Market Skills Center. After leaving NTHS, Emmons went to work in the industry and while working in the industry attended SPSCC, obtaining his ATA degree. Emmons went on to teach at SPSCC and then on to New Market Skills Center where he has been teaching for several years.
  • And, continuing the tradition, Brian Stretch’s student Phil Thomas (NTHS 1998) also left high school and began working in the industry while attending SPSCC where he obtained his ATA degree. Thomas began his teaching career in Shelton when Schlegel left to go instruct at River Ridge. Thomas is now teaching at Timberline High School.

“It’s pretty exciting how so many of the district's graduates have come full circle back to NTPS high schools, and amazing how many of them got their start at North Thurston,” said Carl Schlegel. Many students get their first glimpse of a potential career through the district’s Career and Technical Education programs such as auto shop, welding, woodworking and agriculture. “We miss Ralph, but the program he started at NTHS lives on around the state!”

Thanks to Carl Schlegel for his research for this article!