News for nerds

What started as a DIY project to consolidate his children’s school clutter has taken on a life of its own.

As a building inspector with two decades of carpentry experience, all it took for Mitchell Couch to throw together a couple of inexpensive wooden desks where his kids could stash their stuff was a quick trip to the hardware store and about $50 in supplies.

When Couch posted his creations to social media, he was inundated with requests from parents for blueprints to help them replicate the desks for their own at-home learners.

Due to new COVID-19 protocols, many school districts have swapped out traditional classroom teaching for distance learning or hybrid programs. With more kids learning from home than ever before, providing optimal learning environments has proved challenging.

It turns out that in addition to having a tidier household, being able to compartmentalize school from other activities actually enhances the distance learning experience for kids.

“We heard from teachers that the kids who have their own space to learn do so much better with distance learning,” Couch told CNN, recalling what he’d taken away from a parent-teacher conference. “It’s so much easier to separate home and school life that way. When you’re done with school, you can leave the desk and come eat at the kitchen table.”

With that in mind, Couch put together a DIY tutorial for his YouTube channel detailing the materials required and step-by-step instructions on how to build the desks.

The video was an overnight sensation. “It went crazy,” Couch told FOX26. “I had 200 messages the following morning.”

Among the video’s impressed viewers were family friends Karin and David McKinney who own and operate the local Lemoore California Grocery Outlet. After seeing the tutorial, the couple was inspired to take things to the next level by helping out kids in their own community dealing with the difficulties of distance learning.

“They’re home. They’re struggling,” McKinney told FOX26. “We thought, just a place for them to be, a spot for them to have to do their work would be beneficial.”

The McKinneys made Couch an offer he couldn’t refuse: They’d pick up the cost of supplies if he would agree to build 35 student desks.

Couch signed on for the project enthusiastically. The rest of his family has gotten into the act as well. Couch’s wife, Janessa, has sanding duty, and his kids join the “assembly line” whenever they can.

So far, “The Couch Factory” has built and assembled 40 desks.
With requests continuing to pour in, Janessa set up a GoFundMe page to deal with the overflow in hopes of keeping the momentum going.

While the desks are certainly appreciated by the families that receive them, Couch’s true motivation in building them is to reinforce a sense of neighborhood unity. “I’m hoping [people] look closer at their community and realize the most positive change happens in your community,” he said. “It can be making desks or even helping a neighbor across the street with their yard.”

We doubt Mr. Rogers could have said it better himself.