Hillsborough High teachers gives up six-figure salary to teach welding class

HILLSBOROUGH CO., Fla.--  A teacher in Hillsborough County gave up his six-figure salary to help teach a welding class that was at risk of closing. 

James Martinez, a welder, found out the program at Hillsborough High School was about to shut down after they didn't have a teacher for the class. 

Mr. Martinez tells ABC Action News he is a Hillsborough High alumni himself, and took the welding class his senior year that helped set him up for a successful career. 

The first-year teacher found out that many students want to take the class, but there's a strict dress code and outside expenses for the class. 

The class requires students to wear work boots, that can cost up to $50 -- money some families can't afford. 

Mr. Martinez decided to ask a simple plea from social media, asking if anyone would be willing to donate a gift card to buy the boots, or donate the new boots -- and the response has been overwhelming.

So far, the class has received a number of brand new boots in different sizes that students can borrow. 

Mr. Martinez says if a student is in need, he will give them to the student in secrecy. 

"75 percent of our students are on free or reduced lunch," he said. 

Mr. Martinez said he hopes to spark an interest in his students to show them that there are career paths outside the college bound path too. 

If you're interested in helping Mr. James Martinez, reach out to him at Hillsborough High School by calling (813) 276-5620.

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