With the help of a $650 Innovation in Teaching Education Grant provided by the California Table Grape Commission, Bill Olinger’s students at Selma High School have embarked on the project of restoring a historical wagon that has been part of Fresno County resident Alvin King’s family farm for decades. “The wagon has been sitting around the family farm for decades and is part of the historical junk pile that just never got thrown out,” King said. Olinger said the wagon dates back to 1910-20.
The grant was offered to educators in the grape-growing regions of California. Up to 35 grants, with a limit of $750, were awarded to support innovative teaching projects in the areas of math, science, agriculture, California history, art and health.
Olinger teaches a woodshop class, a construction class called Green Construction, and Computer Aided Manufacturing, or C.A.M. Olinger said he has taught industrial-arts classes at the school for six years.
As part of the school’s recently implemented after-school program, Olinger signed up to teach an after-school class on auto body and paint. “The kids in that class will be working on this restoration project,” Olinger said.
The task of restoring the wagon will take some time to complete, according to Olinger.
“The kids are hard-working and so far, so good. We work three hours one day a week, so it takes some patience because it takes time,” Olinger said.
Olinger said that the goals for the wagon restoration project are to teach the students the history of farm equipment and its uses in our local area, as well as to teach the students the phases of restoration and the wood construction process.
Another goal that Olinger has is that through their involvement in this project, the students will learn to appreciate our past and include community involvement in their future as adults.
“It is just fun to know that they will be able to see projects such as these in the future and what they have done. Kids nowadays are not involved in taking part in their community as much as they should be,” Olinger said.
“Bill Olinger is a teacher that students look to learn from and work with because he provides a positive learning environment with real-world learning. His classroom curriculum looks to support college and career readiness for all students. He also assists students with connecting to the community in which they live, as evidenced through this wagon restoration project,” said Selma High School Principal Mark Babiarz.
“When the grant came up, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to restore one of King’s projects?’ He has a lot of things to restore,” Olinger said.
According to Olinger, King has been heavily involved in the Selma community over the years.
“It is my hometown and I try to be a good citizen,” King said. “Like many, many, many other citizens in the community over the years, you will find that local people have given time, treasure and talent as support and investment for our local schools.”
King is a semi-retired teacher who worked for the Selma Unified School District. He is currently a part-time teacher at SUSD, a member of the Pioneer Village Museum Commission, one of the leaders of Boy Scout Troop 300 and a member of the Nazarene Church.
“Mr. Olinger and I share an interest in driving horses. He thought a restoration project would be an interesting project and asked if I had anything that could be used. Restoring it was on my bucket list, but I had never gotten to it,” King said.
Olinger has also partnered with Selma’s local Ace Hardware Store, which has offered to offset some of the costs of paint.
“I really wanted to get the community involved as much as possible,” Olinger said.
The project completion date is scheduled for early spring.
“Our hope would be to get it all hooked up and be able to drive it. It would be nice to get a mule and take it over to Pioneer Village once it is completed,” Olinger said.