Wachter’s world of woods

New STS teacher shares his inspirations


Gabi Tederman

Skilled and technical science teacher Matt Wachter guides sophomore Skylar Crews on a project for Intro to Technology. Wachter is teaching six different STS courses this semester.

Most people wouldn’t think about a geometry class inspiring a future job. For Yutan’s new skilled and technical science teacher Matt Wachter, however, that is not the case.

Growing up in Kingsley, Iowa, Wachter’s inspiration to teach came from many different people. His mom was a music teacher, so education was a part of his life from a young age. His fourth-grade teacher and high school industrial technology teacher helped inspire him as well, but the biggest influence on his future career was a project for geometry class.

“I can still remember an assignment [the teacher] set where we had to go draw our house…I remember that just being a really fun assignment. I think that’s what got me into drafting,” Wachter said. 

From then on, Wachter had two goals: become a teacher and draw houses. Knowing what he wanted to do for his career, he attended Wayne State College and graduated with a degree in drafting communications. He got a job at Heritage Homes as a draftsman, fulfilling his dream of drawing houses. 

During his time at Heritage Homes, Wachter went back to Wayne State College and got a teaching endorsement.  After 20 years as a draftsman, he decided to move forward with a different one of his dreams.

“It was just time to make it on that other promise, other goal that I had set for myself,” Wachter said.

Wachter’s next job was as the La Vista Middle School industrial technology teacher, and he taught there for the next two years, during which he received a Papillion La Vista Community Schools greatness award.

Wanting to teach at a smaller school, however, Wachter found the skilled and technical sciences teacher position available at Yutan.

“I like the smaller class sizes, getting to know the students on a more personal level,” Wachter said. “[There’s] a lot of potential at this school and I see a lot of school pride… people like this school and I think that’s great.” 

Like many other teachers, Wachter has ups and downs with students in his classes.

“It’s the kids, you know, you get them and you get the spark going. And that’s, you know, you almost don’t have to pay me… but you get the kids that you really have to work with, and then that’s where you get your paychecks,” Wachter said.

One of Wachter’s major goals is to get his students to apply what they’ve learned in his classes during class as well as outside of class.

“This is kind of an area where it can be overlooked or underappreciated. So if you can get somebody who can take something we’re doing in the class and come up with their own original idea that takes what they’ve learned and pushes themselves to the next level, that would be really satisfying,” Wachter said.

Many students find his class interesting and a place where they won’t become bored. 

“I like the creative side of building with wood and having to have the ability to do your own project,” said freshman Drew Krajicek, who is taking Woods 1.

Beyond the freedom the class offers, Krajicek sees other aspects this class can help with.

“We’re going to have to buy our own wood for our own projects, so you’ll have to figure out, financially, which is most valuable for you to do,” Krajicek said.

Skylar Crews, a student in Wachter’s Intro to Technology class, finds his class very enjoyable and likes the way he teaches.

“He knows how to help and not take over the project,” Crews said.

When he’s not in the classroom, Wachter enjoys outdoor activities, including woodworking, photography, hiking, backpacking and camping. He has a shop at his house where he practices and tries to keep improving his skills. Wachter tries to limit his use of power tools and focus on using hand tools.

“It’s cool to be able to not have the noise of a shop, just to be able to move to a quieter space,” Wachter said.

Since that geometry class, Wachter’s passion and skills for woodworking and designing have come a long way. There’s always something more to learn, and he hopes to keep improving along with his students.

“I’m just trying to learn new trades of woodworking because there’s a lot of them,” Wachter said.