Behind the shop doors


Christian Swenson

Christian Swenson has served as LHS’s shop teacher for several years, inspiring students to find creativity in unexpected places.

Cameron Rhode, Editor-in-Chief

E-wing is the place where many stories can be found and told. Most of the time students think of the world language classes or the regular art classes, but one of the hidden gems of LHS are the shop classes.

Christian Swenson, has been running the shop at LHS for a few years now. While the love for woodworking and the shop interested him, it was the schedule that roped him into the teaching profession.

“I got into teaching for [having] the summers [off] and kinda fell in love with it after the fact,” said Swenson. “Teaching was not on my radar in college, and after the fact it kinda fell into my lap and I thought ‘I’ll give it a shot’, and I ended up really liking it. What drew me to teaching was having the summers off, the perk of it. It wasn’t the pay, that’s for sure.

Swenson did not originally plan to become a teacher, but luckily there are programs, like the Alternative Teaching Certification in South Dakota, that allow for someone with a degree close to the content to obtain their teaching certification. 

“My degrees are actually in business management and construction management, and the state has an alternative process for hard to fill positions, like shop teachers and math, science, all those difficult positions are ones that if you have a degree in a related field, like my construction management degree got me this job,” said Swenson. “And then I was able to go through that process, and now I have my official teaching certification that works anywhere. [Teaching] was a little different from where my original plans were.”

In his shop classes, Swenson teaches classes like woodtech and home maintenance. Swenson enjoys teaching skills that are not often taught anywhere else in school.

“I really like being able to teach kids things that they will actually use in life,” said Swenson. “Especially in my home maintenance class, most people at some point of their life are gonna own their own house. This is stuff that the vast majority of people, at some point of their life, will use. Even if it is not something that we specifically did in class, it will at least have some similarities to the things that we did and they can say ‘well, I did this in that shop class, it’s kinda similar.’”

Swenson also enjoys seeing his students grow in his classroom. This is what keeps him going.

“I really like being able to see my students as they go, especially the ones who haven’t had any background in it, go from no idea what they are doing to being able to independently take a project from just a blank piece of wood and turn it into something that’s actually usable or functional for whatever their project was,” said Swenson

Swenson is often fond of seeing the creations his students are able to make from a simple piece of wood.

“I had a student a couple years ago, he made a couple of really cool projects, he made a jeep,” said Swenson. “It was amazing, the detail he put into that and he also made a big walleye cutout that he made into a key hanger.”

The LHS shop classes are open to anyone who wishes to take them, there are no course requirements, and all the classes (Home Maintenance, Woodworking Technology I and Woodworking Technology II) are single-semester classes. For more information, visit Swenson or your counselor.