Going Back to My Old School - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Going Back to My Old School

 In Feature Articles, Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs
When you hear about high school wood shop programs these days, the news is generally sad. Many schools have given up entirely, selling off the equipment and sending the message that there isn’t any value in learning to make things out of wood. So it was refreshing to be invited to speak to the wood shop classes at my alma mater, Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio. My topic was Arts & Crafts furniture, and I was pleased to see that the program is not only alive and well, but it is thriving and heading in an interesting direction.

Troy Spear answers student’s questions about their current project.

The program at Kent Roosevelt is a part of Wood Links, a partnership between the woodworking industry and educators to provide meaningful training in woodworking. The goal is to equip the students with the means to get jobs in the industry by certifying their skill levels. The program is led at Kent by Troy Spear, shown in the photo above, who was recently named the Wood Links teacher of the year. Classes cover a wide range of relevant topics including AutoCAD, CNC programming, furniture design and hands-on woodworking.

The shop is nicely equipped with a mix of old and new equipment. In my day it was full of vintage Delta Unisaws and Band Saws. Those machines are still there, along with the most recent addition, the Altendorf sliding table saw seen in the photo above. Next on the wish list is a CNC router to ensure that these kids are learning on the same type of equipment that is used in the real world.

As I set out to return to Cincinnati, I got one more reminder of life in my old home town, a nice dose of Lake Effect Snow. A local radio station let me know that the interstate west of Akron was experiencing a white out and was closed due to the number of wrecks. I decided to head south instead of west to get around the storm and was beginning to grumble about losing time when I looked to the left and saw a comforting sight.

My detour just happened to go by Hartville Tool, and they just happened to be having a sale. When life throws you a snowball . . .

– Bob Lang

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