Accomplishments so Far

<Why I do what I do                                                                                                                                          A Few Project Based Learning Strategies>

It is officially the time of year in education when the steam begins to progressively dwindle, as we teachers continue to battle the student symptoms of senior-itis and teenage spring love, and begin to crawl toward the blinding light at the end of the tunnel.

As my first year begins to wrap up at Republic-Michigamme Schools, I am exhausted, depleted, and overwhelmed with what is left to be done. I have felt like saran wrap over a hot casserole dish on a kitchen island with mindless kids sitting, tempted to poke their finger through the clear plastic slowly inflating from the heat. BUT, so far I have held it together, and have preserved the leftover casserole up until this point. I plan to continue to do so, but a reflection of the accomplishments so far is appropriate with hopes to slow down progress toward the rupture point.

Progress can be like getting taller. Day by day small changes are made. Many days are maxed to the limits. One can only grow so much taller in one day, and one can only accomplish so much in one day. Every now and then you notice things like your pants feeling shorter, or an occasional growing pain here and there. Then, your grandma sees you for the first time in a while. You and the people around you don't notice, but all of a sudden you're hearing grandma talk about how she doesn't have to hunch over to pinch your cheeks any more and how someday you're going to be taller than your own father.


Every now and then I get a "Grandma visit" in the shop. It's rejuvenating, but rare. So here are a few Grandma observations I'll take note to remind myself of:


1. Wrestled two insanely large tool cabinets away from the hidden and apparently secret chalkboard in the HawkShop.


2. Tore down two large partition walls that had no purpose for our plans.


3. Put a window in a cinder block wall to bring more light and visibility into our finishing room.


4. Sorted tools and hardware.

5. Sorted tools and hardware.


6. Sorted tools and hardware.


7. Created individualized homes for all of our hammers and handsaws. Created organizers for our layout tools and all pliers in the shop.


8. Became experts at anchoring almost anything to cinder-block walls.


9. Made cutting boards with 100% student completion.


10. Created one location for all of our hardware.


11. Designed, built, and installed custom homes for our most frequently used power tools.


12. Have 90% of students measuring down to 1/16".


13. Gathered enough workbenches around the shop to create a classroom/meeting space.


14. Implemented student clean up systems.


15. Learned some inlay work.


16. Implemented an ELA/Industrial Arts curriculum with our amazing ELA teacher, Miss Miller, that integrated high expectations for writing and communicating with Industrial Arts content.


17. Crowdfunded through the following tools:


Dust mops

Drill Press


Table Saw

Cordless circular saw

Miller multi-process welder

2 Workbench Vices

2 Scroll Saws

Auto-darkening welding helmet

2 Finishing Nailers

4 50" Quick Clamps

5 12" Quick Clamps


18. Moved and utilized without loss or damage all of my personal shop tools and supplies.


19. Acquired an inventory of over 400BF of hardwood lumber thanks to our friends at Bell Forest Products.


20. Gained 185 followers on our Instagram account.


21. Gathered the support of Jason Cameron from the DIY network and BOSCH power tools in our efforts to #bringbackthetrades and #keepcraftalive.


22. Filled - I don't know how many- dumpsters with dust-collecting junk.


23. Lived off of school lunch and dinner most every school day.


24. Built and sold all the components, and then some, for a bee hive to a local bee keeper.


25. Organized and took 13 of our female students to Women in Construction day at NMU.


26. Introduced Material Science content and organized a field trip to NMU to use material testing equipment for the day.


27. Started and maintained (mostly regularly) this blog.


28. Gained a total of 100 supporters on



Add to that building and implementing a CAD, Spanish, and elementary computers curriculum on top of the personal chaos of two moves during the year, two car accidents,  two hours commuting daily, and 6 college credits, it's a wonder the saran wrap has any structure left.


We're not done, we've got a lot of work left to do to meet our goals. Again, follow me on to help us out and consider making a monthly contribution to the HawkShop.


And, at the end of the day, with all that's left, it's not that I have to, it's that I GET to.


IT is helpful to take a second and see the forest through the trees though. Hopefully, I'll be able to post a similar list of all the personal projects we accomplish at the end of the year. Until then, next post this Sunday. 

<Why I do what I do                                                                                A Few Project Based Learning Strategies>

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