While he is our solar installation instructor, Duane Cunningham is also a graduate of Bridging The Gap In Virginia. He completed the training in the fall of 2021 and has been serving as our instructor since. Duane says that he had seen solar being used for years while he traveled overseas for the military and was surprised it wasn’t being utilized more often back in the United States. Now, he’s happy to help train the future solar installers of tomorrow.
Duane has experience teaching, as he taught in the military, though he says that teaching for Bridging The Gap In Virginia presents its own challenges. Teaching adults is nothing new but for Bridging The Gap In Virginia, there’s no set base knowledge all of his students are coming into the program with; in the span of one week, he has to not only help bring everyone to the same knowledge level regarding some math skills, but he also has to then give good instruction on solar installation. Furthermore, he’s aware that everyone learns in different ways so he also attempts to account for that.
However, challenges aside, Duane has found the experience rewarding. When asked what the most surprising part of teaching has been, he said that he “wasn’t prepared for how thankful the participants have been. Some have found the experience to be incredibly lifechanging.” He mentioned also how some of the students have called him “coach.” When he asked them about this, they said “Well, you’re like our coach. You’re putting us back in the game.”