Jason Hatch, a middle school math teacher at Union Academy, after noticing there was a need for students to have an outdoor classroom, he took it upon himself to make it happen, paying for the construction of a 10 x 12 building on school ground property.
The building is the first outdoor shop that Union has ever had. Hatch plans to add to the building little by little, allowing the students the opportunity to do the work themselves as they learn more about using power tools and doing mechanical work.
According to Hatch, last year the students donated rustic benches they had constructed to Relay for Life. The building will allow students to continue doing similar projects to give back to the community.
“They can learn to do things that they will need to know how to do in the future when they have their own homes and cars and things,” said Hatch.
The first project Hatch has lined up for the students to work on once the building is completed is learning how to disassemble aKawasaki dirtbike and organize the parts to store them, before reassembling the bike. That lesson — presented in an unorthodox way — will teach the students to develop organizational, math, and note taking skills as well as the actual mechanics.
Thus far, Hatch has paid for all of the materials himself. “It does not amount to very much,” he said. Hatch says that he is hoping to persuade Lowes to donate some ratchet sets to the school for the students use.
The actual construction was done by Berg Building Surplus, owned by Josh Berg, at a reduced rate.
Union Academy is an alternative school for children with special needs or behavioral concerns. According to Hatch, there are 21 students in the 7th and 8th grades at Union. Those students will be split into four groups and will rotate working in the shop every nine weeks.
“This is the first shop Union has had,” Hatch said. “All of the students are excited to start working in the new building.