Wesley Chapel Academy is a series of classes presented on a Friday evening 6-7:30pm which teach life skills to students in 1st through 5th grade. The first three classes offered teaching and practice for housekeeping basics, cooking basics, and sewing basics. The fourth class of life skills focused around using power tools. It was shared with me by a counselor many years ago that if a person learns to use power tools, they are less likely to be taken advantage off. I wanted this for the girls and boys in my world.

Two amazingly gifted tool-men in our congregation answered the invite through bulletin and newsletter to join in the fun and planning. My son-in-law broke apart wooden pallets and removed all the metal giving the project a rustic feel and a great starting product. We set up outside in the shade to help with cleanup.

Supplies: circular saw, drill, screws, saw horses, clamps, hammers, aprons, carpenter pencils, screw drivers, D-hook hangers, nails, sandpaper, safety glasses and goggles, ear plugs, measuring tape

After introductions and much talk about safety, students were taught to use a measuring tape to mark off the line to cut. As they waited and listened to the ‘circular saw talk’, each student sanded their wood piece to take care of rough edges and keep their hands busy. If hands are busy, minds are calm. Using clamps and proper hand placement, each student cut their own piece of wood with the circular saw.

Sanding continued as we took a water and story break. I shared how Jesus was a carpenter, and his earthly father was a carpenter from Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3: an apprentice is one who has a teachable spirit to learn tasks to honor the Lord. Jesus was Joseph’s apprentice. We are apprentices of Jesus.

Back outside, students discovered the difference between a nail and a screw as each student measured where to connect the cut pieces of wood and install a hanger on the back of each project.

After the group photo, students were able to keep the tool apron, a carpenter’s pencil, measuring tape, two screwdrivers, and received a certificate.

Wesley Chapel Academy is an outreach ministry of WCKids. Completing this first season of four academy classes, 56% of attendance were students who we did not know beforehand. Four of the nine adult tutors were members of our congregation, but WCA was their first experience serving at the church. With an average class of 12 students, we used $200 for all four classes. The most expensive class was the cooking basics at $125. Advertising and registration through Eventbrite brought in 12.5% of our attendance, which proved effective marketing outside our own typical social media.

Thank you notes are going out in the mail this week for all our tutors and youth helpers. Fifth graders who will be aging up have already asked to be youth helpers for next spring. Each class proved to be greater than I ever imagined. Not sure yet what we will teach next season, but this is an outreach program that is here to stay.  Oh, the possibilities!

“Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood.” Exodus 15:25