Khrystyana Kirton writes about George Wurtzel.

"In George's class, total, I created two picture frames, a small pine box, three "wizarding wands", learned how to fix a stopper in a sink and how to diagnose a problem in the sink's drain. When I first started his class, I hadn't held a hammer in over a year & was terrified of a table saw even before I lost my vision, the trepidation I felt being in a "shop" class was momentous. However, George guided me (and the other students) with patience and a no-nonsense kind of attitude that was comforting as well as informative. He inspired me to take more challenging projects, was patient when all I wanted to do was run away from the loud and scary machines. When I, or one of my fellow students, would make a mistake, he was right there, showing us what we were doing wrong and how to correct it. He always has a joke or story to tell, knows when to help and when to back off to let a student figure-out things on their own. He's one of the best teachers I've ever had who has become a good friend and ally.

Picture Frame and Small Pine Box by Khrystyana Kirton

Picture Frame and Small Pine Box by Khrystyana Kirton

My instructor for wood shop was George Wurtzel. George is a great teacher. He is knowledgeable, has a wealth of experience and is very patient. I learned a great deal about the tools I would be using and how to use them. One of George’s strength’s in teaching is to instill a sense of trust not only of him and a trust of the equipment as well. For example when I needed to use the table saw, for my project, George provided a mini lecture on how the equipment works. The instructions meant that I was standing near the equipment. He explains how I turned the machine on and off. While explaining he also would tell me that the switches are set up for the user’s safety so that the machine cannot be accidentally turned on. Then I actually turned on the switch in order to practice how I would turn the machine on and off. He takes the same care in explaining the rest of the equipment. Once he is done with the explanation of the equipment there is an explanation of the steps that will be used to cut the piece of wood. Once the instructions are complete and he is sure that I understand and answers any questions I may have had. I was then ready to cut my piece of wood. George is there to guide me through that process as well checking to ensure my hands are in the proper place and position to keep them safe and operate the machine properly. George is not shy and he is assertive in providing direction and guidance. He seems to have a sixth sense in knowing where I was in the shop and what I was working on even when he was not standing beside me. He was very aware of all of the students’ location in the shop and what they were working on.

This action also served to provide a safe environment in the shop. This awareness meant that he could step In and provide assistance when needed. I felt like this keep not only me safe but the other students safe in the space as well. I had cut several pieces of trimming for my project correctly and I got the machine set up to cut another piece. While I was cutting this piece of long trim for my project I somehow got it set up incorrectly and when I went to cut the piece it pop lose and ricocheted off the back wall. His response was, “now that did not sound good, what did you do. ” He came right over and we walked through how I had it set up and what went wrong.

I was also learned from the instructions that he was providing to the other students in the shop. George also created an environment that allowed the students to interact with each other while working on our projects. We could always count on learning some new anticdotal piece of information that was of interest to him or other students in the shop. He took pride in the instructions that he was providing and consequently each student took pride in their work and each piece felt like a masterpiece. We could not wait to get to shop. We would talk amongst ourselves about where we were on our project and how our piece was progressing.

George is knowledge about the type of wood that the students were using and why this is the correct type of material to use for your project. He would describe the material in great detail so that I could visualize how my project was going to look. He asks what you would like to make and he says okay. There is moment of silence and out pops this list of instructions. He says these are the things that you will need. He will let you know if your project is reasonable to get done in the amount of time you have available. I really like the fact that I could make something I was interested I doing.

I created a file storage box on wheels (casters) with a hinged lid and two drawers to hold supplies like paper. It is currently sitting in my office where it holds files and I have supplies in the drawers. The height and the width serve as extra surface space in my office. My braille writer sits on top and when I am ready to write a document I pull out a piece of paper from the drawer and put it in the machine and I am ready. It is a beautiful piece of furniture. I get many request, where I tell them they have to go to Minneapolis to George’s shop."