- Sponsorship -

Learning by doing

Home Maintenance and Repair class teaches practical skills

Hailie Davidoski has big hopes to be a forensic psychologist. She plans to go to college to study the connection between psychology and the justice system. But in class today, she’s learning how to hang drywall.

“Even though I don’t plan to work in a trade, this is a skill I want to learn because I won’t have many chances to learn on my own,” said the Grandville High senior.

Hailie Davidoski cuts drywall as Brigitta Brom looks on

Hailie and many of her classmates are enrolled in Ron Denning’s Home Maintenance and Repair class that has been offered for a few years now. Students focus on foundations and framing, electrical work, plumbing and drywall.

“We’re not making everyone professional drywallers,” Denning said. “We are learning skills that can be taken outside of the classroom.”

After students finish the home improvement class, Denning hopes they have the ability to fix things in their own homes in the future.

“The idea is that maybe a student could take a fixer-upper house and work on it themselves,” he said. “These are skills that are very useful as an adult.”

Denning, who has a bachelor’s degree in industrial education and a masters in career and technical education from Western Michigan University, makes all the structures needed for the class.

Whether or not a student has an interest in pursuing a career in a trade industry, Denning bases the curriculum around his own experiences as a homeowner.

Carter Spedoske holds up a piece of drywall

“I try to do all repairs at my home myself,” Denning said. “I can take those experiences and bring them back to the class.”

Learning by Doing 

Before the start of each project, students take notes on lessons and watch videos of the work in action for reference.

“Notes only help so much,” Denning said. “They are learning firsthand by doing all of the actual repairs themselves.”

As many of the projects require lifting and are more than a one-person job, collaboration is key to the success of the class.

Hailie Davidoski sizes up drywall for her group

“We have to work together to get the projects done for sure,” Hailie said. “It’s nice because we are all learning how to do this stuff together.”

Denning incorporates both individual and group participation in every student grade. Each receives a total group grade at the end of a project, as well as an individual, daily work ethic score.

“If a student group got 100 percent on a project but one member only put in 50 percent participation, they would only receive 50 percent of the score,” he said. “This keeps things even: you get the grade you work for.”

The most rewarding part of the job, he said, is hearing success stories of the class’ application outside of the classroom.

Hailie hopes to have that chance soon.

“Now that I have experience I am excited to try things out at home,” she said. “I just have to find the right project.”

- Sponsorship -
Hannah Lentz
Hannah Lentz
A 2017 graduate of Grand Valley State University and a lifelong teacher’s kid, Hannah Lentz has worked as a journalist in and outside the Grand Rapids area for more than five years. After serving as editor-in-chief at the GVSU student newspaper, Hannah interned at the Leelanau Enterprise where she learned a lot about community journalism. In addition to her work for School News Network, Hannah has worked as a freelance blogger in the furniture industry, focusing on design trends, and as a social media manager for World Medical Relief in Detroit.


Students reopen fine-dining restaurant six months after closing its doors

GRCC’s The Heritage has reopened to the general public, with culinary students cooking, baking their way toward degrees...

Plotting for a plot

Students’ hand-drawn maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives...

Outdoor lover, zen seeker, middle-schooler hope-giver

Bill Cataldo is the new K-8 principal for Cedar Springs’ new Red Hawks Online virtual school this year. School News Network took some time to get to know him better in this edition of Meet Your Principal...

The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...

Grandville students start today, either in-person or remote

The remote learning option will be taught live by certified district teachers with a curriculum that mirrors the in-person option...

From relay races to flamingo stands & tissue crawls

Kathleen Messing, a second grade teacher at South Elementary, hosted a virtual field day for her students based on 'Minute to Win It' games...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU