Meet a Teaching the Teachers Partner: Greater West Town Training Partnership

Written by Ellen Dyer on .

The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship’s Teaching the Teachers program awards scholarships to educational and service organizations that teach woodworking to economically disadvantaged communities. We hope to further the work of these organizations by giving their instructors new woodworking skills and a vision of the educational woodshop that they can share with their own communities. We thought you might like to know about the good work these partner organizations do, so we profiled one: Meet the Greater West Town Training Partnership in Chicago (GWTP).

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GWTP provides educational and economic opportunities for disadvantaged residents of the Chicago communities of Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, East/West Garfield Park, and Austin. One of their accredited vocational training programs is a fifteen-week course in woodworking. Since 1993, eighty-one classes (over 2,000 students) have graduated from this program.

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Job placement is a vital part of GWTP training. Area employers advise on curriculum to ensure that students learn skills needed for success on the job. Training frequently includes tours of their facilities - often led by previous GWTP graduates who are now employees. Graduates have gone on to work at Lyon & Healy Harps, Closet Works, and Holly Hunt, makers of fine furniture, to name just a few.

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Daniel Guerrero, shop manager at Holly Hunt and former GWTP student, gives a tour.

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Students tour the Field Museum exhibit shop, which is managed by a GWTP graduate.

Training ranges from traditional techniques to advanced CNC programming and operation. Students also learn computational, communications, and career development skills specific to the woodworking industry.

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In addition to adult students, GWTP works with West Town Academy, a local alternative high school, to offer woodworking as an elective.

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GWTP is an active partner in community events, like this tiple making workshop done in conjunction with San Lucas Church. GWTP grad and current instructor Danjuma Gaskin is pictured below in the background on the left. This summer, Danjuma will be attending the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship on a Teaching the Teachers scholarship, and we look forward to welcoming him on campus.

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Danjuma is following in the footsteps of GWTP instructor Charlie Negron, who took Chair Making here in 2019 on a Teaching the Teachers scholarship. Charlie used the opportunity to polish up his design skills (and to make a pretty nice chair). We think his smile says it all.

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