The next time you drive down Highway 14, see if you can spot two homes built by high school students. Here’s a hint: look for the Habitat for Humanity banner. Evergreen Habitat for Humanity recently celebrated the completion of two new homes built by Evergreen Public School students enrolled in the Geometry in Construction program. Both homes are located at McKibbin Commons, which can be seen between the Andresen and Leiser exits.
Evergreen Public Schools’ College, Career and Technical Education program provides opportunities for high-school students to prepare for their post-secondary choices through authentic experiences. “Career and Technical (CTE) programs are successful because of dedicated partners like Evergreen Habitat for Humanity,” says Susan Dixon, director of College, Career and Technical Education (CCTE) for Evergreen Public Schools. “It is essential our curriculum is current and relevant, and business and industry partners provide continuous guidance in areas such as curriculum, instructional materials, facility remodels, and training for teaching staff. A strong partnership can change the lives of students!”
For their partnership with Habitat, the students build the homes over the course of a school year. “Students sign up for a weekly, two-hour, year-long class that teaches construction through geometry,” says Dixon. “They receive one math credit and one Career and Technical Education credit towards graduation. All the construction and geometry coursework is aligned so students can be introduced to a concept in class and immediately apply it to their building activity.
“After learning about building safety and design, students construct their first home (to scale) in the classroom out of balsa wood. The students are responsible for the framing, siding, truss structures, roofing and trim.”
When it’s time to move on to the real thing, Evergreen Habitat for Humanity provides blueprints and all construction materials. Professionals from the construction industry come in at appropriate times to explain, demonstrate and work with students on various facets of the build.
Once framing is done, professional structure movers transport the home to land owned by Habitat for Humanity where a foundation has been laid by professionals. Students complete a mixture of indoor finish work that may include sheetrock, installing cabinets, finishing trim or laying down flooring. Electrical and plumbing work is handled by licensed contractors.
During weekend builds sponsored by Habitat for Humanity, volunteers (some retired or active building professionals) lend expertise to the building process. During this time, students have an additional opportunity to work side-by-side with industry professionals.
Evergreen Public Schools implemented the Geometry in Construction program during the 2011-2012 school year as part of the CCTE program. Since its inception, and subsequent partnership with Habitat, the program has benefited local students and local families in Clark County.
“Geometry in Construction fills two needs: improving student math proficiency, and a community need for a skilled workforce in all aspects of the construction/building industry,” says Dixon. “Habitat for Humanity not only provides expertise, they help students understand the affordable housing crisis in our community and the importance of giving back.”
The partnership with Habitat for Humanity is one of many professional relationships Dixon works hard to build. She enjoys developing career-connected learning such as industry field trips, job shadows, guest speakers, problem-based learning activities and internship opportunities for students. She recently worked with a variety of healthcare partners on curriculum and facility design for Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School.
In CCTE, students can apply concepts from the classroom to real-world activities. They gain confidence, maturity and improve their chance for success in the future. “All the Habitat work is done in teams and students must quickly adapt to this environment,” Dixon explains. “They start to prioritize the house and project above themselves. There is positive peer pressure to do a quality job. Additionally, the construction skills students gain can give them a leg up on others who may be competing for summer jobs, advanced courses, or entering the workforce in a couple years.”
“Building a house for a family that doesn’t have one is inspiring,” one student writes. “I like doing good things for the community and the responsibility. Having to do a job and do it correctly helps you to do things and not slack off.”
To learn more, visit the Evergreen Habitat for Humanity website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram. High-school students who aren’t part of the Evergreen Public School District can still get involved through Evergreen Habitat for Humanity’s Youth Build program.
You can also learn more on the Evergreen Public Schools College, Career and Technical Education website. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about student achievements and current projects.