“The economy was very uncertain and there wasn’t that much for work, so I was able to, with the support of my father’s estate, go back to university and take education,” Menz said, noting he earned a Bachelor of Education degree in 1987. “I thought it was a good choice and I wanted to help and work with people. The fact I could combine my carpentry and welding skills into helping people, education seemed to be a good fit.”
His first teaching job was at Saskatoon Community Regional College (Saskatchewan Polytechnic) and he remained there until he accepted a job with Northlands College in Pinehouse Lake in 1991. In 1993, he relocated to La Ronge for a job at Senator Myles Venne School and, in 1999, he accepted his current position at Churchill.
“The beauty of being an industrial arts teacher is you get to work with your hands and you get to do stuff you really like,” Menz said. “I’m teaching something that’s enjoyable and I think is quite valuable as well. There’s a number of kids who have gone on into the trades. Just giving them the exposure to an alternative choice of employment, I think, is some of the rewarding parts of that.”
Throughout the years, Menz mostly focused on carpentry and welding. When students arrive in his class in Grade 7, they build a toolbox and a simple shelf. In Grade 8, students create a treasure chest and the following grade they make a folding table. Once in high school, Menz teaches students how to make cabinets and garden sheds.
When Churchill went through a major renovation in the 2010s, Menz was involved in the design and layout.
“The old shop was adequate, but we didn’t have the welding space,” he said. “This one has 22 stations, so there’s quite a bit of room for students.”
Menz explained the school division already has a teacher chosen to replace him, adding that individual might also begin teaching mechanics in the next school year.
In the coming months, Menz has plans to leave La Ronge. He wants to retire with his wife, Joni, on a piece of land near Macdowall. He’d like to spend more time with his son, daughter and two grandchildren.
“We’re going to move and that will happen this summer,” he said. “We’re selling our place and we have an acreage by Macdowall. We have about 18 acres out there. We will build a house out there as well. Right now, we have a mobile home out there already.”