Retired Sylvania Schools teacher builds desks for students in need

With a growing number of students across the region learning remotely, a retired Sylvania Schools teacher is building a classroom staple for kids in need to have from their homes.
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 5:13 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Toledo native Alan Thompson is better known as Mr. Thompson. For 31 years, Thompson taught thousands of Sylvania Middle School Students. Since retiring in 2004, Mr. Thopmpson has picked up woodworking as a hobby and now uses it to give back to students in need.

“It’s fun, it’s an escape,” said Thompson. “It gives me something to do in retirement I guess.”

Thompson spends hours inside his woodworking shop, creating and cutting. Amid the pandemic, the retiree is combining his two passions: craftsmanship and the classroom.

“Anything like a student desk can make things a little bit easier for kids and make them want to sit down and work and learn,” said Thompson. “I think it’s a plus and a good thing.”

He is a volunteer with the Community Desk Project, or CDP. CDP is a nation-wide campaign promoting desk building and donating desks for students in need while learning from home.

Alan Thompson builds desks for students in need from scratch. For Thompson, he follows the...
Alan Thompson builds desks for students in need from scratch. For Thompson, he follows the Community Desk Project's step by step instructions in order to build the study spots for kids.(Jack Bassett)

“The COVID pandemic drove home the need for having these in the home, but I think the need existed before then, it just wasn’t felt,” says New Mexico native David Gunter, founder of the project. ”I’ve read a lot of educational and psychological based articles on the importance of having a study space in the home and how it helps kids focus, it gives them personal space that they get to manage.”

Alan is asking for others to join his efforts with CDP.

“I’ve been thinking quite a bit about teachers, students, and their parents about what they have been going through the past few months due to the pandemic, so I decided to build some of these desks for young students so they can have a nice study space at home to do their schoolwork and lessons,” said Thompson.

Volunteers can find instruction to build their own desks and families in need can request their own study spots at the Community Desk Project website.

For Mr. Thompson, his work will be donated back to 13 ABC as part of our Hope for the Holiday’s Donation Drive. Alan hopes his hard work can translate to a happy holiday for kids in need.

“Eventually it all comes together and you see the nice project or product that you made and that’s a pretty good feeling,” said Thompson.

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