Westlake teacher builds desks for students

Monday, January 4, 2021 - 2:45pm
Image of a handmade desk. A graphic reads "#ThatsHowWeElevate

Greg Waller wanted to make sure students had a workspace of their own at home.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic first forced him to close the doors of his Westlake Middle School classroom, industrial arts teacher Greg Waller has been looking for a way to help.

He was stumped for ideas until about a month ago when he was watching the evening news and inspiration struck.

“This guy on the news was making desks, and I thought ‘that’s the thing I can do,’” he said. “I have the resources and space to do it, and we have kids that could use a desk like that.”

The next day, Mr. Waller set out to build desks for his students who didn’t have their own workspace at home. He thought carefully about every aspect of the design — from the materials, which are lightweight enough that students can easily move the desks from room to room if they want a change of scenery, to the unfinished wood, so students can make the desks their own with paint and stickers.

He teamed up with school counselors to identify kids who most needed a workspace, and then the counselors delivered the handcrafted desks right to students’ homes. 

“I wanted to get them done before Christmas, so the kids could have something to look forward to as they go into second semester,” he said the Wednesday before Winter Break began, as he got the last batch of desks ready for delivery. 

When he first embarked on this project, he thought he would make four desks. By the time Winter Break rolled around, he had built 20.

“It’s just like when adults are working at home, they create their own area,” Principal Jami Miller said. “That’s what Greg has done. By giving them this desk, they can put it at a place in their house that doesn’t get much commotion, and they can focus there.”