Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ohio County woman goes from dad's workshop to fixing airplanes: Kerco Aviation Services at Wheeling Ohio County Airport (KHLG), Wheeling, West Virginia

WHEELING, West Virginia — Dallas resident Caitlin Shaw said she has loved being in a workshop ever since she was a young girl helping her father repair things in their garage.

Today, that love and dedication has taken Shaw from her dad's workshop to a full-time job helping to repair airplanes at Kerco Aviation Services at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport.

Shaw was hired after graduating from the career and technical program at John Marshall High School in May.

"I always helped out my Dad with little things, so I thought it would be cool to learn it at school," Shaw said. "The reason I took the class was to learn it, but I actually ended up getting into it."

Shaw spends her days between the airport's cabinet shop and working on the planes. Her tasks include sanding, priming, cabinetry and autobody work, but she said her favorite part of the job is painting.

"It's a really big opportunity," Shaw said. "It hasn't been stressful at all, just getting out of school and going to work. It was nice."

According to JMHS collision repair teacher Joe Wendt, Shaw set herself apart in his class by working hard and not being afraid to ask questions.

"She had the interest and ability to perform the work and the duties," Wendt said. "If she was given a task to do, she would go at it full-speed and would ask for guidance. She's also got a pretty steady hand for painting."

When school counselors brought paperwork for the position at the airport, Wendt said Shaw was the only one to take interest in position. Soon, Shaw was working part-time at the airport for workstudy and managed to impress her supervisors with her "go get 'em" attitude.

Michael Atkinson, general manager of Kerco, said Shaw was a welcome addition to his staff at a time when the airport needed a few more hands.

"We were shorthanded and I had put ads out on the Internet, but wasn't happy with the feedback," Atkinson said. "We had a brainstorm and decided to talk to local vocation technical schools. I called into John Marshall and they said, 'We have the perfect candidate for you. She's the best we ever had in the program.'"

Going on the school's recommendation, Atkinson said he gave Shaw a short tour of the airport and offered her a part-time job while she finished her last year in school and later offered her a full-time position.

"Six months later, we couldn't be happier," Atkinson said. "She has been hands-on and has been the perfect fit."

Information from: The Intelligencer,

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