Keep Craft Alive: Mike Schloff, Woodworker and Small-Business Owner
After an inspiring experience at a local maker fair, this former digital marketer created a company that brings woodworking directly into children's classrooms.
Mike Schloff believes that in an era when shop class has gone dormant, so has a critical part of childhood development—a confidence in oneself and in one’s hands. Schloff has set out to provide a solution by rekindling a type of experiential learning that has become absent in our schools.
Schloff, a passionate woodworker and former digital marketer, is the founder of Maplewood Shop, which supplies lesson plans, project plans, tool chests, and training to classroom teachers, camp counselors, and after-school program coordinators across the country. He’s not turning the lights back on in shop classes; he’s bringing woodworking directly into classrooms and providing teachers with everything they need to align woodworking with existing curriculum. “I thought if I could find a way to make tables portable and keep the projects relatively simple, kids could still learn math and engineering skills, physics and design skills, even social studies, while building confidence in their hands,” says Schloff. His woodworking program, which is being piloted in 16 different institutions, has intentions focused on the deeper parts of education, too. Schloff puts it bluntly: “We exist to help kids develop powerful life skills; we happen to use wood because it is a great medium.”
When Schloff was asked about his passion for woodworking, he replied, “I appreciate the ability to slow down and more systematically approach problems by taking a few steps back to make forward progress.” Fittingly, the same can be said when it comes to considering how to empower and educate our children.
Bonus: In an episode of the Shop Talk Live podcast, Fine Woodworking‘s Ben Strano interviews Mike Schloff about the mobile shop classes that his company, Maplewood Shop, has created to teach kids how to collaborate, solve creative problems, and more.