Shut Down That Computer and Build!
SCHOOLS/PROGRAMS FOR KIDS
PHILADELPHIA FURNITURE WORKSHOP
In five years, PFW has grown to 45 to 50 classes per year.
CLASS SIZE: 12.
FOR: Anyone interested in precision, dovetails and vintage chisels, says PFW founder Alan Turner.
GRADUATES TEND TO: Set up shops in their basements. Search Craigslist for vintage hand tools. Buy lathes.
5212 Pulaski Avenue, Germantown, 215-849-5174, philadelphiafurnitureworkshop.com.
J.D. LOHR SCHOOL OF WOODWORKING
The weeklong “Practical Woodworking” courses are full of people whose high schools didn’t offer shop—sad for society, says school founder Jeff Lohr, a former shop teacher at Norristown High, “but great for me.”
CLASS SIZE: 10.
FOR: Raw beginners through advanced professionals.
GRADUATES TEND TO: Buy table saws. Unlike PFW, Lohr emphasizes power tools. 242 North Limerick Road, Schwenksville, 610-287-7802, jefflohr.com.
NANGELLINI: DELICIOUS YARN
Nancy Nagle, owner of a yarn shop at 9th and South, is seeing more students turning to knitting as “a break from the computer”: engineers, a few lawyers (“We let them come, too”), even a couple of men.
CLASS SIZE: Individual private lessons, plus open knitting circles twice a week.
GRADUATES TEND TO: Knit hats, crochet flowers. 832 South Street, 215-413-5001, nangellini.com.
ORLEANS TECHNICAL INSTITUTE
Orleans students build a house from scratch. According to Debbie Bello, director of admissions, applications are up: “The recession is not stopping people.”
CLASS SIZE: 24; 800 to 900 students total.
FOR: Males, mostly, ages 18 to 65, who want to learn one of six trades offered, including carpentry, building maintenance, telecom, and plumbing and heating.
GRADUATES TEND TO: Work for local contractors or start businesses. 2770 Red Lion Road, 215-728-4700, orleanstech.edu.
SCHOOLS/PROGRAMS FOR KIDS
THE WALDORF SCHOOL OF PHILADELPHIA
The holistic approach to education has been the core philosophy at Waldorf schools—there are 870 -globally—since 1919, when the first was founded by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.
ENROLLMENT: 180 pre-K-to-eighth-gradestudents.
EMPHASIS: Waldorf inspires critical thinking, confidence and “boundless creativity” by teaching handwork alongside science, math and languages. 7500 Germantown Avenue, Mount Airy, 215-248-1662, philadelphiawaldorf.org.
The MIQUON SCHOOL
Founded in 1932 on the principles of education reformer John Dewey, the godfather of learning by doing.
ENROLLMENT: 142 pre-K-to-sixth-graders.
EMPHASIS: On a woodsy 10-acre campus, kids flip over rocks in the creek to investigate riverine biology, build working catapults in science class, and make art from what Miquon calls “beautiful junk”—-recycled materials. 2025 Harts Lane, Conshohocken, 610-828-1231, miquon.org.
WALTER B. SAUL HIGH SCHOOL OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES
Principal Wendy Shapiro says that while “everybody comes in thinking they’re going to be a veterinarian,” the food-science program is increasingly popular.
EMPHASIS: The ultimate farm-to-table education. On a 130-acre plot in the far Northwest corner of the city, Saul, the largest agricultural high school in the state, teaches animal, environmental and horticultural sciences. 7100 Henry Avenue, 215-487-4467, phila.k12.pa.us/schools/saul/.