Craig Reed/For the Capital Press
SUTHERLIN, Ore. — Agriculture and industrial arts teachers recently went back to school to better prepare themselves to teach their incoming students.
Teachers from around Oregon and a couple from Washington state participated in a weeklong Shop Management Seminar in early July at Sutherlin High School. The purpose of the eight-hour-per-day, five-day workshop was for new or inexperienced teachers in metals or woods to learn how to effectively use new technology and how to teach career and technical education classes back in their school shops. A couple graduate students from Oregon State University also attended and participated.
The workshop was organized through Oregon State University and the Oregon Ag Teachers Association, and was facilitated by Sutherlin High teachers Wes Crawford in the metals shop and Josh Gary in the woods shop with help from local industry representatives and Umpqua Community College welding instructors.
Sparks flew in the metals shop and sawdust fell in the wood shop as the participants got their own hands-on experience.
“This workshop is an opportunity to prepare teachers to be better shop teachers when they go back to their schools,” Crawford said. “It’s a chance for teachers to learn skills they haven’t learned before, and then learning how to teach those skills to their kids.”
There were 20 participants in the metals workshop and 15 in the woods shop. The workshop gave them the chance to network and share ideas and projects, but also to make items such as brackets and shelves, picture frames, jewelry boxes and birdhouses that they can later use as examples when their students are working on similar projects.
“It’s a changing world out there,” said Ben Kercher, the ag sciences and technology teacher at the Glide, Ore., High School. “Many businesses are using computer cutting. When new technology is purchased such as computer cutting devices, we need to learn how to use them and how to safely teach kids how to use them.”
Oregon State had the capabilities of teaching technological classes on its Corvallis campus until a few years ago when its antiquated building was torn down. A new, modern facility is not ready yet so for the second year, Crawford and Gary have been the hosts of a workshop at Sutherlin High.
Ian Fisher and Duane Thompson, the welding instructors at UCC, Shane Hagberg of We Repair Welders, a Douglas County, Ore., business, Cameron Burks of Airgas in Roseburg, Ore., and a handful of Sutherlin High students who are advanced in metals and woods helped out at various times at the workshop.
Josh Stewart, the director of teacher education in agriculture at Oregon State, said he was impressed with what he saw and experienced at the workshop.
“The value of the professional development these teachers are getting here is probably unmatched,” Stewart said. “In a short amount of time, they get to put their hands on equipment, use it and learn how to teach about it to their students. By doing it themselves, they’ll better understand any problems students might have later.
“Wes and Josh may not consider themselves teacher educators, but that is what they are doing here,” he added. “They’re good at teaching these teachers how to teach in these classes.”
Gary said that with the recent passing of Measure 98 by the Oregon State Legislature, there will be more funding for career technical education, resulting in more shop classes being offered at Oregon high schools. He said teachers need to be better prepared for those classes.
Brian Agee, the shop teacher at the Yoncalla, Ore., High School, said he is drawing on the expertise of the instructors in the workshop. He explained Yoncalla had had no career and technical education classes for several years until reinstating them during the last school year. Agee said about 95 of Yoncalla’s 135 students in seventh through 12th grades participated in at least one of those classes.
“This type of workshop is invaluable in growing the program at Yoncalla,” Agee said of the opportunity to learn as a teacher. “This is where tomorrow’s technicians will come from so as teachers there is no substitute for getting in and putting your hands on stuff to become better teachers. To watch students blossom and grow in these areas, to me that is exciting.”
In this workshop, it was the teachers who were given the opportunity to learn in the shop classrooms.