Meet The Person:
Mr. Allen Androkites - Teacher. Mr. Androkites is the Woodworking and Technology Education Coordinator at Pennridge High School. He has been teaching for 33 years, 31 of them woodworking.
Mr. A was fortunate to have parents who supported him and thought that education was important. His father was a skilled 'fix-it-all' guy . Mr. Androkites went to Millersville University to study Technology Education and then became the wood lab assistant and graduate assistant for 2 years. He saw how the system ran and fell in love with the place. He had the honor of learning under Dr. George Hauber (who many contest as the best professor to ever teach in the Technology Education dept.) Dr. Hauber taught him design and craftsmanship and also gave Mr. Andorkites the idea to write a book about Paul Eshelman; who was a retired professor that inspired many students.
Professionaly, he get's the most from teaching his students his passion - woodworking. He enjoys seeing his students grow from year to year and all of their work displayed at the annual Art's festival in May. And most of all, he enjoys motivating his students enough to go to Millersville to study Tech. Ed.
Outside of school, he enjoys spending time with his family (wife and three children.) He is an avid woodworker who likes building Windsor chairs, turning wood on the lathe, going to Lancaster for the day, and eating and cooking.
Influence 5/52Mr. Allen Androkites Mr. Androkites working on his wood lathe, turning a walnut leg for a chair
Old School. Classic. Throwback. The "old guard." "They don't make 'em like they used to."
That right there, that is Mr. A. This guy is one of the best woodworkers in this area, hands down. And the best part, he is a teacher! Mr. Androkites was my wood shop teacher at Pennridge and I was lucky enough to take all of his classes. Learning from Mr. A was an experience many people do not get the fortune to have. I don't know about you, but I love watching people who are extremely talented at what they do. Athletes, musicians, etc. Watching him during my short 3 years taking his classes was one of those times. I was always in awe of what he could do in the wood lab.
He introduced me to tools and machines I had never used before. Coming from a construction background, I was almost always around machinery. Helping my dad every summer got me a ton of experience working with my hands. So having Mr. A teach me the finer ways of working was an incredible experience.
What made Mr. A so unique was his way of going about it. He is dry, slightly rough around the edges and hilarious with a shallow filter. And that is what makes him the best! In the beginning of every semester we had to take our safety testing. Get an answer wrong, you had to hand write it 10x. Imagine that. And if you would rock back in your chair while he was teaching, forget it. Pushups. Immediately. You had to do a minimum of 10 pushups right there in front of everyone. Imagine that. And the best part was that no one said a word, no whining, no complaining. He caught you, not much had to be said. No one fought back. He had such a demeanor about him that made you think "hmm, I don't want to mess with this guy." And rightfully so. Because the things he taught you were awesome. You wanted to listen, pay attention and soak it all in.
See wood shop is the most unique class in all of schooling. That's not just my opinion but I feel as though it's a fact. Wood working is a life skill. It's something that everyone should learn. You should know how to use a hammer, a screw driver, make something on your own. Learn how to manipulate nature. Get down to the nitty gritty. It is, in my opinion, the very basics of life. And if you have ever taken a wood working class you know exactly what I am talking about. Geometry, measuring. They are just taught and forgotten in a math class. Now, go square up a 2x6x10 rough stock of red oak and it will make you remember those long lost math skills that were merely written down on a piece of paper and throw away after class. Using a table saw, band saw, router, etc., it humbles you. As a punk 15-18 year old kid there is no greater way to settle you down. Having a solid piece of maple nearly fly back in your face because you didn't pay attention to directions - yeah that will wake your ass up!
I made furniture in that class that is still being used in 4 homes today. My parents house, my friends house, my cousin's house and my grandmother's house. And all of them are on display, actually being used. Because they are beautiful hand made pieces of furniture that you cannot buy. They are all custom made, one-offs.
Mr. Androkites is an avid historian about woodworking and his alma mater, Millersville University. He even went as far to write a book about one of his famous professor's, Dr. Paul Eshelman and his works as a woodworker. Mr. Androkites is an extremely talented wood worker. He has a niche for the 'shaker' style furniture and creates beautiful pieces that he sells and displays at shows.
His classes that I took in school were some of my most memorable. Making beautiful furniture all on my own was such a huge accomplishment. And he was very meticulous in his grading and opinion of your work. He made you better every time you walked into the lab. And if you messed up, he would play tic tac toe right onto your wood (sometimes in sharpie) so you would have to sand it down. Haha, that always sucked.
He sends a handful of his students to Millersville every year. His influence in my teenage years is one of the reasons I went to Millersville. I wanted to keep that craft in my life and learn even more. He helps keep the Technology Education teaching profession alive and more importantly, teaches the future of this country how to use their hands and how to do it the blue collar way, with a bit of sweat and elbow grease. I cannot stress how important that is in today's day and age. It is a dying art form - but Mr. Androkites is right there to keep this fundamental way of life around. Keep it up Mr. A, you have taught me things in life that I cherish every day.