Join us for the annual Founder's Award Breakfast to honor two outstanding members of our community, Kelley Watson and Todd Miller, for their dedication to keeping woodworking and hands on learning in our high schools.
Over the past twenty years Kelley has worked as an outdoor educator with a strong emphasis in all things maritime. She has been the Education Director for Sound Experience, an instructor, trainer and associate program director with Outward Bound. She was a trek leader with Gray Wolf Ranch, a commercial fisherman, tenderman and captain in Alaska. She has worked as both a camp manager and a marine technician in Antarctica. She is an avid sea kayaker who has paddled to Alaska and raced 450 miles down the Yukon River.
Kelley co-founded the Girls’ Boat Project in 2011 and its’ fundraiser She Tells Sea Tells in 2012.
Kelley has been teaching at Port Townsend High School as a maritime and woodworking teacher for the past three years. Her three classes are Vessel Operations, Boatbuilding and Maritime Manufacturing.
Projects in these classes include overnight trips aboard the Schooner Adventuress, winter maintenance with Adventuress, building sea kayaks (one per student and they get to keep them!), building hand-hewn stools with Steve Haversaters, participating in the Port Townsend Woodworkers Show, and more. She is thrilled to have this unique public school job and to be bringing craft woodworking and maritime skills to Port Townsend’s High School youth.
She owes her woodworking skills to two awesome people: Uncle Jim and Matthew Straughn-Morse. Thank you!
I have lived in Western Washington all of my life. Before moving to the peninsula, my wife, Viviann Kuehl, and I lived in Seattle where I worked primarily in boatyards. Like so many, I was inspired by the work of James Krenov and I got a few tools and started doing high end furniture.
In 1980 I was one of the founding members of the Northwest Woodworkers Gallery, one of the more successful showcases for custom woodworking in the country. Thinking that I didn't need to be in Seattle if I could show my work there, we moved to Quilcene 33 years ago where we have raised our family and made a home.
I continued making furniture for a number of years until the need for an affordable widebelt sander, for myself, led me to develop, patent, build and market what would now be considered “artisanal” widebelt sanders for the small shop. It was a successful small business where I personally hand built sanders for woodworkers across the country. I probably could have grown the company had I not been adverse to managing employees. This is ironic, for my next, and current, career involves managing great numbers and all ages of high school students which, unlike employees, you can’t fire.
I have been teaching at Chimacum High School for the last twenty years. I started exclusively as a science teacher, with no plans or interest in teaching woodworking. After about five years my principal convinced me to take over a moribund woodshop program, giving me the freedom and support to develop the woodworking/wooden boat building program that we have now. While originally I didn’t want to teach woodworking, I am glad that I do, as I feel it fills an important need for all our students. It shows them that working with one’s hands has value regardless of what sort of career path they have in mind.