Rio Rancho teacher brings back wood shop for special education

Posted at: 05/20/2014 8:09 AM
Updated at: 05/20/2014 9:09 AM
By: Kim Tobin, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Because of steep budget cuts, many schools have done away with classes like wood shop. But for children in special education, this kind of hands on learning is very important.

Now, thanks to a special education teacher at Rio Rancho High School, the wood shop is back and full of high tech tools and projects.

"(I like) the smell of fresh cut wood, it gives me a sense of success," student Robert McCahren said during class.

What may look like just a couple blocks of wood to some means much more to a certain group of special education students at Rio Rancho High.

The school had wood shop classes but canceled them in 2004. Since then, teacher Gordon Douglas has been working hard and writing in for grants, proving why it's so important for his students.

"You get to create. All these guys have put their hands on stuff and they get to see what a good project looks like. It gives them a little pride," Douglas said.

This is the first full semester the class is back up and operating, and already, students like Crystal Ramos have created many functional and creative pieces.

"He's teached me a whole lot of things, how to use tools, how to work with my hands. It's relaxing for me," Ramos said while holding up her latest creation: a wood plaque with the words "Best Friends Forever" carved in the center.

The wood shop students work on projects around the school, like building benches and creating an outdoor water feature for the students to enjoy.

"High schools are losing this part of it," Douglas said. "I think it's an important part of learning and growing."

Douglas had funding help from the Rio Rancho Education Foundation and the STEP program.