Lessons learned in a family business, a field trip and an educational opportunity came together to transform a portion of the Roswell’s Computer Museum.
Last year, while leading a class trip from Eaton Academy to the museum within walking distance, instructor Grey Eaton noticed the display cabinets in the entry were in a serious state of disrepair. Having grown up building display cases for his dad’s business, he immediately knew it would take a major makeover to refurbish them.
It also happened that Eaton’s students were members of the academy’s program that prepares young adults to be independent by teaching social and trade skills and helping them find and keep jobs. While the school enrolls about 120 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, this specialized program is designed for those 18 and older who are physically or developmentally challenged. Each year, about 20 students participate.
“My part is helping them realize they can build, repair and design, and that nothing is impossible,” said Eaton, whose sister, Bridgit, started the academy more than 25 years ago and has since retired. “Last year, the museum needed a pedestal built, and the kids did a great job. We’ve done three others since. But the cases were going to need a major refurbish.”
Museum Operations Director Elaine Pelaia said the cabinets near the main entry were “so ugly, we had them hidden.” So she was delighted when Eaton volunteered his class to take on the project that lasted six weeks and involved pulling out the glass fronts, replacing damaged and warped wood and careful rehanging. Students honed their knowledge of saws and hand drills both in the academy’s workshop and while working about two hours, three days a week at the museum to get the job done.
“He brought the kids here and treated it as a job site,” said Pelaia. “They covered it all: setting up, cleaning up, safety. It gave them actual skill-building opportunities while they also had the chance to give back. We paid for the materials and got the labor at no charge.”
The display cases were finished and filled before a major event at the museum and drew plenty of positive comments.
“People asked where they got the nice cabinets,” said Eaton. “Elaine even invited parents to come over and see them, and everyone remarked on how the kids did a great job. That was special because these kids don’t often get that kind of thing.”
Eaton has volunteered his students to tackle other projects at the museum that can turn into teachable moments.
“They’re also painting bookcases and refurbishing tray holders,” said Pelaia. “The other day, they dropped off a shelf that had been missing in our little break area. It’s just part of what we see as a long-term partnership.”
Information about Eaton Academy is online at eatonacademy.org.
SEND US YOUR STORIES. Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at email@example.com or 770-744-3042.
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