Lessons in Woodworking


In a recent note to parents, our woodworking teacher, Mr. Frank Vargo, shared a very insightful story about what woodworking teaches our students here at Spring Garden.  As you might guess, it’s not just about making beautiful items out of wood.

I had the opportunity to speak for a moment about our woodworking curriculum to fifth grade parents at our most recent class meeting. After presenting a rough block of basswood approximately the size of a brick that their children are presented to carve, I related the typical reaction of a fifth grade woodworker upon meeting the resistance of the material: “This saw won’t cut! It isn’t working!”

It is the same exclamation I hear every year. I agree. The saw won’t cut. The truth is, the saw does nothing but what we direct it to do. Just that morning I was working with the fifth graders of three years ago, now our eighth grade chair makers. They had once faced the same challenges with the same trepidations and frustrations.

That same morning the eighth graders walked up to two to three thousand pound red oak logs and proceeded to cut and split them into 12 pieces they could carry without one word of doubt or suggestion that their equipment was insufficient.

I had never compared the two grade level experiences before. I am amazed (and a bit proud) to be part of developing this much character in our students. Much of the credit goes to Main Lesson teachers for cultivating a love of learning in our young people. They come to me eager to overcome obstacles and ready to strive for new levels of performance. Demonstrating this growth in confidence and character, and giving it to our students, is why we woodwork at Spring Garden.  

– Frank Vargo

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