The news of the month is that I’m stepping away as the head of Pine Croft. There’s nothing bitter about any of it… only sweetness.
As many of you know, our family moved from Berea back to Maine a couple years ago. As a result of that move, I have coordinated things from a distance and have returned for course sessions at the school. I love doing it; it’s a joy to return to Berea for classes, and there are familiar faces I can’t wait to see around town and at the school. But the approach is limiting to Pine Croft and taxing on a family.
Which makes the upcoming leadership change so satisfying. Two Bereans—Rob Spiece and Katie Bister ’23—will take over things at the woodworking school. Rob brings extensive experience running classes during his years at the Lohr School of Woodworking in Pennsylvania. He runs Woodcraft at the College and will head the efforts at Pine Croft starting in July. He generously shares his skills, knowledge and his carefully curated glue-up soundtracks with his students. Katie graduated from Berea College in May with an extensive craft background, both through her personal practice along with her focus on woodworking as a major and as the student shop manager within Woodcraft. You likely met Katie if you took a class at Pine Croft over the past couple of years. She’s been a fixture around the school. Now she’ll share her knowledge and you may see her on the schedule before too long.
You’ll notice new developments with Rob and Katie in place. The most apparent is the increased schedule, with classes nearly every month, with more guest instructors and a wider range of offerings, from traditional hand tool courses to contemporary projects. There are more changes in the works, but I’ll let Rob and Katie share them when they fully introduce themselves in the coming months.
As for me, I’ll be back to teach at Pine Croft in the coming seasons. I plan to return for more chair making and hickory bark harvesting. There’s plenty on the horizon. I have furniture commissions on my workbench, a book to finish (Backwoods Chairs with Lost Art Press), middle school soccer to coach, and an old house to restore.
I’m thankful for my time with Berea College and at Pine Croft. Running the school wasn’t always easy, though it was always good work. I felt pressure following Kelly Mehler behind the lead bench, in the shop and school he created, but I felt nothing but encouragement from him. And I felt encouragement from you all through notes and emails, through kind words, the class suggestions, the tool donations, through hard work, mishaps, and laughter.
Thank you for your generosity and kindness during my time at Pine Croft.
I think you’ll love getting to know Rob and Katie.
About Rob & Katie
Rob Spiece has been Director of Woodcraft at Berea College since December 2021 and will be succeeding Andy Glenn as Director of Pine Croft beginning July 1, 2023, unifying the Woodcraft and Pine Croft Director positions.
Katie Bister ’23 is a graduate of Berea College with a degree in Engineering, Technology, and Applied Design. Katie worked in Berea’s Student Craft program all four years serving as Student Manager of the wood shop during her junior and senior years. She will join the Pine Croft Team as PineCroft Manager beginning June 19, 2023.