When I read “Blowing Their Minds” in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, I thought, “David Powers is a boarding school teacher in the finest sense.”
Powers has been at Colorado Rocky Mountain School 40 years:
“as an alumnus, parent of an alumna, and teacher of blacksmithing, ceramics, kayaking and glassblowing, Powers has been learning and teaching at CRMS for the past 40 years.”(GSPI)
Cindy Blachly’s article begins with Powers’ glass blowing talents and class.
He is a glass blower/artist of the first order having logged more the 10,000 hours practicing his art. But, what makes him great and places him in the rarified world of great boarding school teachers is that he takes his talents, his work, and his love to his students.
Powers understands glass blowing, indeed all of his work on campus, as ways to reach students, and, to impart experiences and lessons.
Powers explained to Blachly:
“Math, chemistry, geology, physics – these all come into play in glassblowing. I’m not trying to teach these concepts, but I point to them throughout the process and try to get the kids excited about the practical application of these subjects…A lot has to do with being excited to learn and being willing to take risks, knowing it’s possible to succeed.”(GSPI)
As with many a great teacher, it was a student who finally convinced Powers to learn to blow glass.
“‘The first time I saw glass being blown, I knew I wanted to do this before I died,’ Powers recalled.
It wasn’t until a former student, Dylan Katz, caught wind of his teacher’s desire – and pestered him for more than a year – that Powers agreed to offer a week-long glassblowing interim.
Powers and Katz built the glassblowing studio from the ground up by modifying a raku kiln to act as a furnace, creating ceramic bowls to melt the glass in, and making all their own glassblowing tools in the blacksmithing shop. Many are still used today.
‘I actually taught glassblowing before I ever blew any glass,’ Powers said.
‘It was magical,’ Powers remembered from that first experience. ‘I immediately saw the value of glassblowing and how it affected kids – how they worked together and seemed transformed by the experience.’
Transformative faculty. That’s boarding school.