New Holland Elementary School Principal Jeff Starr: “We have a need—kids thirsty for learning—and Garden Spot Village residents have a desire to transfer their hands-on wisdom.”
In November 2018 Meghan Clisham, a 5th grade teacher at New Holland Elementary, contacted Garden Spot Village, asking if it was possible to work together to create an afterschool club for her students.
Larry Knepper, Garden Spot Village resident since August 2009 and Wood Shop member, approached the Wood Shop leadership to see if there was interest creating a woodworking club. The men, recognizing the opportunity to positively impact the lives of children in the community, willingly accepted the challenge. Gordon Lash, John Moore, Bob Collins and Paul Dodge volunteered to mentor the students and Larry coordinated the projects, drawing on experiences leading similar sessions with Grands & Kids Camp.
Larry says, “The students seemed to be very interested. Some of them have a little bit of background with woodworking. I chose the projects to get them acclimated to all of the equipment in the shop.”
Each week 16 6th graders attended the club, which ran four weeks on Monday afternoons in February and early March, from 4-5pm.
Meghan and 5th Grade Teacher Rachel Smith chaperoned the group. Meghan says, “We intentionally piloted the program with 6th graders because we knew the students well. Plus, the students were already familiar with Garden Spot Village because they had pen pals from Garden Spot Village last year.”
Each Monday the students broke into four groups and decided on their project for the day. Larry provided plans and materials for four projects each week. Students chose between a bird house, a stool, a toolbox and a paper towel holder. Some of the groups chose to make individual projects and others chose to work together on a project for the school. For example, one group made a bird house, which will be used in the school courtyard, while others chose to make individual bird houses.
Rachel says, “We were really pleased to offer this opportunity to do something different. It’s cool to watch them use a ruler to measure the wood, learn about the safety of the equipment and interact with the residents.”
New Holland Elementary Principal Jeff Starr says, “We are blessed to have Garden Spot Village, an invaluable resource, just a mile and a half from our school. We have a need—kids thirsty for learning –and Garden Spot Village residents have a desire to transfer their hands-on wisdom.”
Garden Spot Village Wood Shop donated the materials for the projects, allowing the school to offer the club to the students at no cost.