By Dee Williams
I had a chance to meet with a group of high school students today at St. Helens High School in St. Helens, Oregon. For the past few years, their teacher, Joe Mauck, has been teaching students how to frame, sheath, plumb and wire tiny houses – skills that they can easily transfer to bigger (but hopefully still small) projects. Their tiny houses are then donated as auxiliary buildings for a nearby daycare, or they are sold as hunting cabins. You can learn more about Joe’s program through the school’s website: Building Construction Department at St Helens High
When I was in high school, I loved my shop class, and not only because I got to stare at Jimmy Henderson (my crush) for an hour each day, but because at the end of the day I could actually see something real. Something I made from my own hands. That is why I love building now. Because if you’re lucky, and persistent, and develop the right skill set, then someday, you get to stand inside a tiny house that previously existed simply as a neuro-electrical snap in your brain. Instead of a doodle on paper, you can turn it into the place you call home.
Standing there in the St. Helens shop, I found myself incredibly warmed by the education Joe’s students were getting, and suddenly inspired to get back at the tools. I’ve been spending a lot of time at the drawing board lately, but I am itching to fire up the tools and start building again.
As you may know, high school shop classes are undervalued. Many are on the “chopping block”, sad pun intended. If you have time or inclination, check out Joe’s class and consider a donation to his or your own public school shop class. And if you wish you had your own high school shop class, try on our Tiny House Basics Workshop. It’s not about hands-on building, but it covers all the “book-learning” you need to take on the big tiny DIY house building project you might be thinking about.