Doug Harple & Joe Mix
If I had a hammer … and a saw
Q: So, what do you get when you match a building trades teacher with a construction trades teacher and a batch of eager students?
A: A new recreation hall for kids going to summer camp!
Teachers Doug Harple and Joe Mix are skilled in far more than carpentry — they also know how to help their communities. Their work as local union presidents has helped them hone those talents: Mix is president of the Rensselaer Columbia Green BOCES Teachers Association, while Harple is president of the Capital Region BOCES Faculty Association.
This past year, they helped their students learn on the job by pounding nails, measuring, sawing, leveling and organizing the construction of a recreation hall at a YMCA summer camp in Guilderland in Albany County. The walls of the rec hall were built in Harple’s shop class beginning last November, and then brought to the site. A mason poured the concrete slab floor.
“We’ve been on site since mid-March working most weeks three days a week,” said Harple, talking on site earlier this summer. “This is what teaching is all about.”
Harple also joined other YMCA volunteers — including some students — over the summer to help finish the inside of the rec hall.
“The community is getting the benefit and students are learning the value of volunteerism,” said Mix. “It stares them in the face. In 20 years, they can drive by and show their kids — ‘I helped build that.’”
The new building replaces a weathered, 55-year-old building. The hall will be used for rainy-day activities such as games, movies, and arts and crafts. About 400 kids attend the YMCA each week in summer, the organization reports.
“It takes a lot for a not-for-profit to put up a building,” said Brian Robinson, YMCA camp director. “To have BOCES come and help us put it up saves us financially.”
Last year, this hands-on teaching duo took their students to Troy, to help build a Habitat for Humanity home.
“It’s a nice skill to have,” said tool-wielding Kelsey Cresser, a senior. “If something happens around the house, you know how to fix it.”
Nicole Fennelly wants to be an interior designer and said, in this class, she is enjoying learning about using different tools on the job.
Dwayne Wolfe, a Capital Region BOCES senior during this construction project, is heading off to SUNY Delhi in the fall for architectural design and drawing. Working on the rec hall, he said, helped give him experience in the field. “It helps you design a building that is practical to build,” Wolfe said.
— Liza Frenette