DPS Employee Spotlight: Gary Hites

Gary Hites has worked as a carpenter for the Dayton Public School District for four years, but his history with DPS goes back much further than that. Hites was a 1983 graduate of John H Patterson Co-Op High School, now called David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center. Hites studied vocational carpentry. He was drawn to carpentry because of the satisfaction of seeing the raw materials he works with becoming something entirely new. His parents also owned a historic home in the area of St. Anne’s Hill, and he spent his summers helping those in his neighborhood maintain their homes, which also helped him develop a love for the profession.

What does your job at DPS involve?

I am the “shop guy.” I do all of the shop work, which essentially means I take the materials and I build the pieces. I do a lot of special projects for the district. For example, right now I am making cabinets for Edison Elementary. The old Edison building used to have a museum in it, and all that stuff had been put into storage. With the new cabinetry and display cases, the museum pieces will be on display once again.

I also assemble items that the district orders. For example, I handle the assembly of tables, chairs, and all of the playground equipment for students.

What do you like about carpentry?

When you walk into the shop in the morning, you only have a plan on a piece of paper, and by the end of the day when you walk out, you get to see everything you’ve done — there is instant gratification. I like to see my projects progressing and raw materials being turned into something new.

I also really like working in schools because the students are so appreciative of the work I do. When I’m in a school doing work, the students ask me questions about it and say they are happy I’m there.

Is there a project you are particularly proud of?

I have a lot of them. I made a cabinet for the superintendent’s office, and it was made completely out of scrap pieces of wood. It was painted, so looking at it now you can’t tell it is made from scraps.

I like it when I can make something and it helps either the person using it or the district itself. I came out of Dayton Public Schools, so giving back to the district is important to me. I like being able to help those students who are in the same place I was in many years before them.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time as a DPS employee?

I think one of the best things I’ve experienced is when I received an award for Maintenance Person of the Year in 2018 at the Employee Appreciation Reception. That was pretty exciting. It was a total surprise.