PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend School of Woodworking honored two area high school teachers for their contributions to the woodworking community through education.
Kelley Watson, maritime woodworking teacher at Port Townsend High School, and Todd Miller, shop teacher from Chimacum High School, received the woodworking school’s Founder’s Award during a breakfast fundraiser in the Fort Worden Chapel on Thursday.
“This award is to recognize people who have helped the school or helped woodworking in the community,” said Tim Lawson, executive director of the School of Woodworking.
In the past, the award has gone to artists, teachers and a park ranger at Fort Worden who helped moved the school to its current location in Fort Worden State Park.
“I’m incredibly honored that the school would give this award to Todd and I,” Watson said. “These guys have really taken me under their wing so I could get this program where it’s at.”
Watson has taught maritime woodworking at Port Townsend High School as part of the Port Townsend School District’s Maritime Discovery Program.
She said the School of Woodworking has worked closely with the high school, sharing tools and volunteering some staff to make the high school program possible.
“Our high school kids are getting an education that’s similar to what they would get here,” Watson said.
“They might not get as much practice as these students, but they’ve learned some of the same skills.”
Miller has taught a traditional shop class at Chimacum High School for about 15 years. He said skills such as woodworking are important to teach at the high school level because it will open doors for jobs in the future.
“If a kid can learn to use a tape measure and show up to work on time, they can get a job,” Miller said. “We’re not going to be shipping construction jobs overseas, and we’re not going to send boat repairs overseas, so from a practical standpoint, it’s beneficial.”
Miller also said that, in an increasingly digital world, the feeling of physically making something often is underrated.
“It’s really a human thing to make things with your hands,” Miller said. “That’s my philosophical standpoint, anyway.”
The event Thursday benefited the School of Woodworking scholarship fund. The school raised about $8,700, which will go toward helping students who want to attend programs at the school.
Lawson said currently, the scholarship is based mostly on the passion of the students but that school officials hope to create a more need-based program for students who really couldn’t afford the school otherwise.
This year, five students received funding through the School of Woodworking scholarship, which raises money almost entirely from the Port Townsend community.
“This community is so rooted in craft, and we’re just an extension of that,” Lawson said.
“This event really started off as more of a ‘friend-raiser’ but has slowly morphed into a fundraiser.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].