Building Bridges in Woodshop Class and in Life

December 10, 2021

Animal Caretaker Maggie Pasquarella helps a Screech Owl transition to its new home at Clearpool.

In the Clearpool campus Nature Room, a small Screech Owl and Kestrel have a new cage habitat, custom-built by students of Woodshop Teacher Tony Kimble. At Brewster campus, goats frolic on a new wooden bridge that spans a trickling stream.

It’s a metaphor just waiting to be exploited: ‘building bridges’ through cooperation and combined efforts to meet a common goal. That’s the real story when Green Chimneys School students, teachers, and the woodshop team work together to help improve the lives of animals. Farm Teacher Kent Smith and one of his high school classes saw the need for the bridge renovation. A stream that runs through the goat enclosure had overtaken a small footbridge, leaving the goats unwilling to cross and limiting their free-range access. The students’ solution? A newly fabricated bridge that the goats took to instantly—problem solved!

Student Marcus and Woodshop Teacher Tony Kimble assemble a door of a bird enclosure.

The bird enclosure was a more complex project presenting a great opportunity for woodshop students to develop skills in planning, design, and assembly of a large-scale piece. June graduates Tyler, Jamie, Alex, and current senior Marcus helped in building two bird enclosures and a cubby shelf for them to sit on. Tony guided the students through every step, from cutting the wood to assembling the parts to staining.

When students create for their community…

“I like seeing kids go beyond their own personal projects to work on ones for Green Chimneys, especially the farm and wildlife programs,” says Tony. “When it helps our animals, it’s even more meaningful.” Kent agrees: “Taking care of animals is more than just fun, we have to always improve their quality of life and the kids play a big part in that. Renovating the bridge was their idea, and they became the demolition crew, planners, and carpenters.”

Marcus and recent graduate Tyler present the stacked enclosures.

Tasks like these bring out the best in students, who rise to the challenge and use all their creativity to reach a shared goal. It starts with seeing a need and taking a project to completion. In the process, critical thinking is applied, vocational skills emerge, cooperation with peers is called for, and following directions from teachers is a prerequisite. Prior to coming to Green Chimneys, most students struggle in these areas but they surprise themselves, and their families, with newfound competence.

For the owl, the kestrel, and the goats, it’s just another day of being spoiled at Green Chimneys, and the meaning behind the creation of these projects is invisible to people passing by. But the memories made by the students who built them in the spring of 2021, will last a lifetime.

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