The young hands are a bit uncertain as students take aim at the piece of wood clamped in front of them. They take short, choppy strokes as they navigate hand saws through the pine.
Soon, though, their movements are more confident and intentional. It helps that Mike Schloff, the founder of Maplewoodshop, and a group of union carpenters are there to encourage them.
Welcome to anything but an ordinary day at Gainesville High School in northern Virginia, where 50 students are being introduced to carpentry thanks to a partnership between Maplewoodshop and the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.
“There’s a tremendous amount of work that’s come into this area and we want to teach these kids how to get these jobs. We want the lessons we teach today to excite students to want to join our pre-apprenticeship program and start their journey to becoming a union carpenter” said Mike Dempsey, Communications Manager of the Carpenter Contractor Trust.
By the end of the 1-hour session, the students will have built their own angled phone stands to show off to their classmates. When their work is finished, they gather for group pictures with Schloff and their instructors.
“These safe, affordable and easy to implement programs that use any teacher in any classroom, so kids as young as sixth grade can discover all the opportunities ahead with the skilled trades,” said Schloff, who founded Maplewoodshop in 2016.
Dempsey said partners like Maplewoodshop are ready to provide the curriculum and train students to be carpenters, creating a strong union apprenticeship pipeline from apprentices to journeypersons who make six figures a year.
Prince William County, he said, has a once-in-a-generation opportunity with the Digital Gateway Project as well as other major infrastructure projects that can provide students with high-paying construction careers.
The Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and Carpenter Contractor Trust are introducing the next generation to the skilled trades through their work with partners like Maplewoodshop. The EASRCC is one of the nation’s largest and most respected unions. It represents men and women who provide safe, productive work every day. The organization’s state-of-the-art, no debt apprentice training programs ensure workers have the training to operate efficiently and safely on the job site.
Maplewoodshop touts itself as the only program in the country teaching woodworking to elementary and middle school children, in addition to those in high school. The program provides all the equipment, tools, materials, training and curriculum. For more information on the program, visit cctmarketing.org and maplewoodshop.com