During the COVID-19 pandemic, creative, intelligent people are being asked to find new ways to meet unexpected challenges. That was the case when West High School teachers Greg Smith and Jason Franzenburg received a request from TJ Schneckloth, Superintendent of

TJ Schneckloth is superintendent of the Davenport Community School District.

Davenport Community School District, back in June 2020.

At that time, Schneckloth needed a reliable source of face shields for District employees. Smith and Franzenburg, industrial technology instructors, teach Project Lead the Way Engineering and Career and Technical Education.

“TJ was looking for an efficient, creative way to take care of a need in-house,” Smith said. “We started out with a hundred face shields, and eventually we made two-thousand. I made the majority of the face shields, along with my fellow teacher and coach, Jason Franzenburg.” With the assistance of several community members and paraeducators, the face shields were assembled.

“The shields are made from thin but durable clear plastic,” Smith said. “We found a design we liked, 3D-printed them, and laser-cut them. The frames on the shields kept them off of one’s face.” They made the frames from either plastic or plywood, to keep them lightweight.

Greg Smith with one of the face shields.

The face shields were expressly created for in-house use. Currently, use of the face shields is limited because in September 2020, the mandate became to wear a face mask, as opposed to a face shield, though a person can wear both a face mask and a shield.

Franzenburg and Smith have been involved in several other projects together, including helping students create a clean-water filtration system for a village in Kenya. In January 2020, Smith traveled to the African country to collect data that could be used in the design of the filtration system, and came back to America just before the pandemic.

Franzenburg and Smith also coach FIRST robotics. They led West High School’s Combustible Lemons to a World Robotics Championship in 2017 in St. Louis, MO.

Cory Williams, Principal of West High School, said, “This was such a cool project and Greg jumped in without hesitation. He is a perfectionist and those shields are awesome quality and can be used over time. Greg is selfless and goes above and beyond, for not just West High but the community. We are lucky to have him.”

 West High School is located at 3505 West Locust Street, Davenport, IA. To find out more about the school, visit http://www.davenportschools.org/west/.

To learn more about the Davenport Community School District, please visit http://www.davenportschools.org/.


Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.