Denicola Returns to Pathways Program

Denicola Returns to Pathways Program as an Instructor
Posted on 09/27/2022
	Pictured are LPPS Pathways Instructor Anthony Denicola and Career & Technical Education Coordinator Staci Polozola.

Denicola Returns to Pathways Program as an Instructor
New LPPS Welding Instructor Hopes His Story Inspires Students

LIVINGSTON, La. – Anthony Denicola was never inspired by the traditional coursework his teachers in Live Oak tasked him with managing.

By the time he completed eighth grade at Live Oak Middle School, he described himself as “uninterested, unengaged and unhappy” with school. He had settled on believing that he was not a very good student.

But that was before he enrolled in the parish’s new (at that time) Pathway Program that addressed the needs of students who desired to pursue a GED in lieu of a traditional four-year high school diploma. The program in 2004 focused on students receiving certification in welding and business.

Denicola flourished. He completed his GED and earned all the possible credentials the school offered in welding in just one year. But since he was not yet 18 years old, he returned to the program for a second year to work along the instructor as an intern, completing special projects and assisting new students in the class.

“I had found my passion, and it was something I was good at. I learned I was a good student. I just needed to work on the subject matter that interested me,” Denicola said.

At the end of his second year, the instructor – Jeremy Kinchen – encouraged him to go into the field earn a good salary. But before sending him out, he told Denicola that one day he was going to take over his job.

Denicola went to work for Shaw Sunland, Epic and Fabricated Piping over the next 16 years. Throughout his career, he continued earning AWS Advanced Certificates in Stick, Mig and Tig welding, making himself more and more valuable to his employer. Then one day he heard that Kinchen was retiring from the school system.

“I knew Mr. Kinchen was right. I needed to go back to the school to inspire students like myself to pursue a different pathway,” Denicola said. “So here I am. I’ve come full circle.”

Denicola returns to a program that has greatly expanded what it offers students. The Career & Technical Education program now offers certifications in health care, construction crafts and trades, automotive technology, IT computer technology, culinary programs, criminal justice, and agriculture. Night courses in electrical, carpentry and Operation Spark are available.

“I’m excited about being a part of this effort. I don’t want any of these students to ever think they’re not good students just because they don’t want to follow a traditional path. They can be good students if given the right path. It worked for me, and I hope to make it work for them,” he said.

“And if I’m lucky, I’ll find that student who 20 years from now can replace me,” Denicola said.