I got a phone call today, from my high school wood shop teacher. (Names are withheld to protect the tool addicted) This is not really an abnormal occurrence, as he and I will talk from time to time. This is usually when I have a question, or if I am trying to remember some woodworking tid bit that I know he will know off the top of his head. I will ring him up, and we can spend a few minutes chatting about woodworking, how I am doing, how he is getting on etc.
To give you some reference, Woodshop was THE ONLY class I paid any attention in. I actually took it two years in a row, and was immediately smitten with woodworking from the beginning. I was what was considered a … how do I put this delicately, ….. “non-traditional” student. I was bored out of my mind, and was notorious for acting the fool because of it. However, shop class was a different matter all together. I loved it.
I think that the main reason for this was , as a student, it was really apparent to me just how much my teacher enjoyed what he taught. It really helped to create interest and to make the class something I WANTED to do.
He was also a certifiable tool junkie. Hand tools, machines, jigs, he just loved (loves) tools. So it is no surprise that sharpening is almost a religious event for him. Thankfully, some of us students picked up on this too, and it is a skill I have worked to keep up, and improve on as my early woodworking endeavors turned into a vocation.
In addition to opening my eyes to working wood, He also introduced me to the woodworking deities that are my heroes to this day. Jim Krenov, Sam Maloof, Tage Frid, Thomas Moser, all names I learned from this shop teacher. I learned them, I read their books, I was inspired by their designs and their techniques. It all started with this one teacher.
It’s sad really, that for whatever reason, the educational establishment sees fit to de-fund programs like this. My old high school still continues to offer wood shop, but is in the minority. Any more, one is hard pressed to find a high school with any shop class, let alone a quality wood shop like Ponderosa’s. kudos to the county for continuing to provide an avenue for kids to learn this trade.
In any event, It was a real pleasure, as it always is, to hear a voice from the past that reminds me why I chose to make my (meager) living working wood.
Thank you, Mr. Rauh, for sharing your love of woodworking and passing it on to us. Always remember, there ARE guys like me in your classes who ARE listening, and who ARE paying attention. There are knuckle heads in your classes, who just need that ONE teacher to actually give a shit. To be the teacher who looks for untapped talent, rather than be the teacher who is only punching a clock, or enduring yet another day teaching. Thank you.
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