More Than Just Woodworking

Troy hero

Who can teach math, reading, science, construction, job skills, social skills and teamwork in the classroom every school day? Troy ISD’s John Branton does.

As Raymond Mays Middle School’s Building Trades teacher, Mr. Branton teaches his seventh and eighth grade students woodworking skills, including planning, measuring, carving, sawing, building, sanding, polishing and painting. “Mr. Branton has found the ‘just right’ balance of encouragement, engagement, and challenge to maintain student involvement with his students,” says Mays Middle School principal Michelle Jolliff.

Jolliff says the shift in student learning on campus has not gone unnoticed. Even in his first year in the district, students – some of whom had never been involved in other school activities – found themselves connected to their own student group. Mr. Branton’s influence has continued to impact his student; his students are willing to come early, stay late and meet-up on the weekends to help with projects at school and in the community.

Over one holiday break, Mr. Branton and a group of students built an accessible ramp to assist a family in the district with a wheelchair-bound student. In addition to the technical experience the students that worked on the project received, they also learned about service to others. Former student Adrian shared, “He teaches us more than just woodworking. He teaches us other life skills, too.”

Eighth grade student Delilah stated she enjoys Mr. Branton’s class. “I love the hands-on stuff,” she said. “We get to be creative in his class too.” Class projects have included jewelry boxes, cutting boards, shelves, benches and refurbishing old tables. “Every student walks away with a finished product they skillfully made with their own hands,” Jolliff explains. “But more importantly, they walk out of class with lifelong lessons learned about team work, persistence and self-confidence.” #IAmTXEd