Shealyn Kilroy 2017-11-02 00:44:01
TWO SEPTA buses and a train: That’s the means of transportation Building 21 students take to attend an after-school program to learn the building trades at Orleans Technical Institute in Northeast Philadelphia. “The one day we had snow, they had to go up to the Northeast. It’s a long commute to get up there,” Laura Shubilla, principal of Building 21, said. “When the snow was coming, I was curious if it was going to be a poor attendance day, but it wasn’t. They all made the trip up there even in the bad weather.” Since early January, 15 juniors from Building 21 have commuted two days a week to participate in a 16-week program to enhance their trade skills. The program, entitled the Career Exploration Program, is provided by Orleans’ parent organization, JEVS Human Services. Located in the former Ferguson Elementary School, Building 21 opened its doors to students in September 2014. The Ferguson campus currently has grades 9 to 11, but the high school plans on expanding to grade 12 next year. While still existing in the School District of Philadelphia, Building 21 is a non-profit organization founded by Shubilla and Chip Linehan. The new academic model of Building 21 is intended to cater to a student’s specific needs, providing academic courses and pathways-career centered opportunities. The “foundation years,” grades 9 and 11, are designed to give kids exposure to career fields such as culinary and entrepreneurship. The older grades are designed for students to get hands-on training and internships in their chosen pathways. Building 21 has partnered with Vetri and Temple University’s Medical School to show students those fields. “One of the ways that we’re trying to make the school different is by helping connect students to interest areas from the beginning of their time in high school and helping them learn about a variety of different careers and connections to college in their classes,” Shubilla said. After receiving a grant from the Lenfest Foundation, Building 21 partnered with JEVS to respond to student interest in the trades. For two and a half hours, Orleans’ instructor Milton Dillard teaches the students basic aspects of the building trades: carpentry, electricity, and plumbing. Building 21 student Terrance Harris, 17, found a passion for construction when he first did framing in the program at Orleans. “A teacher approached me about the program and asked me if I was interested in construction,” Harris said. “I told her I was interested in it, but I wasn’t passionate. After I started coming to Orleans, I began to be passionate about [construction.]” The students work in teams of three, on projects like installing a door, for a pass or fail grade. Dillard tries to “keep it real” on teamwork and takes it “outside” of just learning the basic trade skills. “Bringing them in as youth, I try to teach them you can pick and choose.” Dillard said. “Out there in the real world, you get to a construction site where you might not know anyone, but you still have a job to do. I try to instill that in them, and that what they know will take them further in this business.” Dillard applauds the student’s commute to Orleans, and Anna Bogdanov, Orleans Technical College, claims the traveling is adding more to the program. “The program doesn’t just teach the hands-on building trade skills.” Bogdanov said. “It also teaches teamwork, problem-solving, communication skills, time management, and Philadelphia geography.” Similarly to peer Harris, Benjamin Davis, 18, was approached by a teacher about the program. Thinking of his mom, Davis told the teacher he was onboard immediately. “My mom and I redo our house a lot,” Davis said. “I knew this would give me some skills to help me so I can fix things without having to call the contractor.” This article originally appeared on https://spiritnews.org/articles/building-passion-students-frombuilding-21-get-hand-on-with-the-building-trades/
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