Scott Larson Baldwin Center for Technology

Baldwin County School System

Anderson Ranch Art Center

Article on Scott and his fellowhsip

Brief Description of  Fellowship: Participate in three intensive furniture woodworking courses, a Furniture Workshop, a CNC Workshop, and a Digital Fabrication Workshop at the Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, CO, to enrich newly created Computer Aided Design Wood Technology classes.

In conjunction with ALSDE and industry advisors, I will be responsible for final course design, learning objectives, lesson planning, and project development for two new courses, Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Wood Technology (CAD-CAM) I & II. Again, my vision for teaching these course is to create a design/build furniture workshop where students learn creativity, ingenuity, innovation, and apply academic skills to real world problems by utilizing CAD/CAM programming and CNC technology to design and produce functional furniture. I will need every bit of knowledge I can glean and every skill and technique I can learn in these workshops to aid in course development. I need to experience being a student in this type of environment so I can provide a similar environment for students. Further, studying under Master Craftsmen will provide models for me to emulate when I begin to teach the new courses. The time frame for achieving stated goals is one month to attend workshops at the CFC and three weeks upon return to apply learning to new course development. However, there is really no end to this process. I will use the workshops as a beginning, continue to learn, and apply the lessons to all of the classes I teach. I will share this experience with colleagues and encourage them to make changes that keep their programs dynamic and inspirational. Since I feel the CFC’s stated mission has value, I will adapt it to fit my program and work toward instilling “the belief that design and craftsmanship are deeply meaningful expressions of the human spirit and contribute to individual fulfillment and cultural transformation” in all students and colleagues.

Career Impact:
Anderson Ranch Art Center (ARAC) workshops were the best professional development I have ever attended. I am in the process of creating new CNC Technology courses for my Building Construction/Carpentry program. My vision for the new courses is to create an environment where students learn more than just technical skills by creating a design/build furniture studio. I want students to learn creativity, ingenuity, innovation, and how to apply academic skills to real world problems. I want them to imagine, explore, question, make mistakes, and experience success. To accomplish this, I envision a studio where students learn the iterative design process and then produce a product of their own design. Students will reinforce academic skills through practical application, develop new technical skills, learn Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Machining (CAM), CNC machine operation, and 21st Century skills.
However, my CAD/CAM skills were limited to 2 dimensions (2D) or what is termed 2.5D which approximates but is not true 3 dimensional (3D) design or machining. Also, I have never been trained in furniture design or furniture craftsmanship. I needed to engage in professional development to learn new skills that could be passed along to my students.
I attended a two week furniture design and craftsmanship workshop and two digital design/fabrication workshops at ARAC. All were extraordinary experiences in project based learning with highly regarded artists, designers, and craftsman as instructors. The content of all workshops was perfect for learning the skills I needed to develop content for the new classes. As a bonus, I was continually engaged with interns and classmates who were artists and designers which resulted in a highly creative environment in which to explore and learn - exactly the type of environment I hope to create in my classroom.
I think the biggest impact on my career will not be the new technical skills I learned though those were needed and indeed important. The impact of the experience at ARAC was the atmosphere that fired my imagination of what is possible if the right environment is created. Education should not be drudgery. I am inspired to create an atmosphere of exploration, creativity, and innovation where students learn both technical and 21st Century skills that will prepare them for future endeavors. I believe teachers who are inspired and excited in class pass this along to their students. Today, I am both.
Classroom/Community Impact:
I often hear my students say that academic classes as boring and useless. Part of the CTE mission is to dispel this perception through the application of academic knowledge in hands-on learning experiences. If students understand why they need literacy skills, how math is applied, why scientific and artistic principals are important, they are more likely to apply themselves in those classes. As we explore career options and how to “make a living”, the social sciences become important. Students in my classes learn technical skills needed in the workforce. They also learn that technical skills are not discrete but rather the integration of academic knowledge to produce or build a physical product.
The addition of new CNC Wood Technology classes will help alleviate a need for CNC programmers and operators for local and regional industries. Students will learn skills they can utilize in a high demand, high wage job. There is value in preparing students for this profession. However, I would be cheating my students, the school community, future employers, and the general community by limiting my teaching to this limited view of content and standards. My vision is to create a dynamic classroom conducive to innovation, experimentation, exploration, artistic creation, problem solving, and “learning to learn”. My experience at ARAC exposed me to the type of environment that I want to replicate in both my new CNC Technology classes and Building Construction classes. If I can use this new knowledge to create a dynamic classroom atmosphere that inspires students to learn, imagine the effects as students apply themselves in academic classes because they realize the content can be put to practical use. Perhaps the students’ new attitudes will become infectious.

The workshops at ARAC exposed me to a culture of creativity and innovation I have never experienced before. I learned under masters at their craft. I saw students inspired who elevated their craft and art to new levels. I experienced the learning that is possible when the environment and atmosphere challenges, motivates and inspires students. This will be a guide for me as a teacher to create this culture in my classroom. Students who are excited about learning learn. Unmotivated students in an uninspiring environment probably will not learn much. My goal is to inspire students to learn in my classes, as well as other classes and outside the classroom - curious lifelong learners.
Open Response:
I don't think my command of the english language is adequate to describe how valuable this Fund for Teachers Fellowship was or to describe my experience at ARAC. Since I am a relatively new teacher coming from a background in industry rather than a traditional route, I have taken advantage of a lot of available professional development opportunities. This fellowship afforded the opportunity to engage in professional development I would otherwise not be able to attend. It was unequivocally the most useful professional development I have attended. The month I spent at ARAC exceeded any expectations I had prior to beginning the workshops, covered the technical content I needed, and demonstrated the effectiveness of project based learning in the right atmosphere.

What an atmosphere! I was surrounded by artists and craftsmen working in every media imaginable. Everywhere I looked, students were engaged in creative pursuits. Lectures by world renowned artists were presented twice every week. Studios were open so I could watch painters, potters, welders, woodworkers, photographers, printers, designers, and other artists at work. Instructors challenged students to get out of their comfort zones and be innovative. Classmates bounced ideas off each other. It was exciting, stimulating, and invigorating. I was immersed in the type of environment I want to create for my students. I don't think I could have been at a more perfect place to prepare for teaching both the new CNC Technology courses as well as my other courses at this point in my career.

Personally, somewhere during my educational and professional journeys, I learned a love of learning. I also learned to enjoy the creative process. Both of these have stood me in good stead while working in fields as disparate as research biology, manufacturing, carpentry, and now as an educator. These tools have allowed me to learn and succeed in many endeavors. If I can pass these tools along to my students in an invigorating and stimulating atmosphere along with a few other tools needed to succeed, perhaps I will have done my job.
My three year old granddaughter is an intrepid explorer, uninhibited creator, and fearless innovator. My job is to awaken the three year old hiding in my students.
Last modified: Friday, 10 February 2017, 10:37 AM