Eric Runge, a middle school woodworking shop educator, has spent more than 30 years working with youth and showing them how to shape objects and take pride in the craft. This year he decided to find a way to fund more skateboarding-specific projects, allowing each student an opportunity to construct their own skateboard for fun and leisure time use. He reached out to Marwood Veneer to provide the necessary wood supplies to begin the steps to build out what’s needed to hold the skateboard classes.
Marwood Sales Representative Brett Bennett said, ”It’s always great to hear from teachers devoted to making skateboard builds happen, particularly in middle school. The students have wonderful takeaways from their time in shop class, and each finished skateboard is theirs to open new worlds to meet new friends, and get out to enjoy a timeless sport.”
Runge began his journey in woodworking at about the same age as his students and is committed to making the classroom activities a time to connect with completion and fulfillment in a job well done. He recently said, in an interview for the Oakland Unified School District, ““This is the place where kids get exposed to a skill they never had that can become a lifetime passion or become a career,” Eric said. “This is where they learn to use their hands and very precise tools that can lead to high-paying jobs. They learn that math has a purpose, it’s real-life experience that they don’t get in other classes.”
Funding to take on skateboard builds has come from websites like donorschoose.org and gofundme.com. Not long ago, a Go Fund Me campaign generated enough monies for a SawStop table that included an automatic blade guard and clamps. In just one month he has raised over $14,000 of his $30,000 goal, from people that know the education opportunities he provides — former Montera woodshop students like himself.
Runge intends to keep skateboard builds at Montera Middle School. His enjoyment of woodworking began back in 1960 when he was a youth himself at the same school.
Students respond regularly to give back, and they often comment to Runge about their experiences. The recent blog of the Oakland Unified School District documented some of the student commentary.
Hans, an 8th grader, said, “I usually think of this class as my connection class because you get to talk to your friends, You can be sanding and talking to your friend at the same time.” Marwood’s President Jim Martin added, “We like to document the success of our clients who are educators, using skateboard builds, because they are fostering the learning that takes young minds into engineering, math, and science. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) coursework is growing in our country in importance, and we’ve got to begin with skateboard builds to make more possibilities known for the career choices of the future.”