In the fall of 2014, as a parent volunteer, Jeffrey “J” Prothero offered to help Zach Fields with the new Construction Technology program that he was starting at Roswell High School (in Roswell, GA). Sometime thereafter, it was Prothero’s observation that the students participating in the construction program would be better prepared if given the opportunity to develop age-appropriate knowledge and skills in their earlier years. Acting on this notion, Prothero launched Georgia’s first club level middle school construction program at Elkins Pointe Middle School. Here, students learned fundamentals in wood framing, electric, plumbing, and masonry through a single complex project that was entirely hands-on. Named “Jr. Hornet Construction”, this after-school club turned into a full-blown class made available to all Elkins Pointe students after just two years at club level.
While running the program at Elkins Pointe, Prothero explored the possibility of having elementary school programs that could feed into Roswell’s two middle schools. In short order, Mimosa Elementary School was enthusiastically on board, thus leading to the creation of Georgia’s first elementary program for basic construction skills. Called the “Young Apprentice Construction Club”, this project-based learning program focuses on woodworking skills while completing individual take-home projects and, or, a group project when building the “Teeny Tiny House”. Additionally, all students get exposure to power tools (drill presses, corded drills, and compound miter saws), various hand tools, and safety.
As of August 2018, the “Young Apprentice Construction Club”, along with its 120 current student members and 30+ volunteers, existed in all six schools which fed into Roswell’s two middle schools, thereby completing the first elementary to high school construction technology pipeline in Georgia.
Beginning with Georgia, it is the ambition of “Toolbox” to make available to every elementary and middle school the sorely needed curriculum that our kids need if ever they are to realize the fulfillment found when they build with their hands.