(Editor’s Note: February is Career & Technical Education Month. In recognition of the vital role vocational education plays in our schools and communities, this is one in a series of stories about CTE student and program success through the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District.)
(GLADWIN) – The construction work occurring over the course of the school year on North Cayuga Street in Gladwin will, in the short term, benefit a local family and the community. But in the long term, it could represent the first step in the future careers of 18 skilled tradesmen.
The house is being built by high school students in the Clare-Gladwin Career & Technical Education’s Construction Trades program. The nine-month project began in September in cooperation with the Gladwin County Land Bank Authority.
“Basically, this house represents the opportunity for students in Construction Trades to learn virtually every aspect involved in building a home,” said Instructor Josh Myers. “They started with an empty lot, and when they’re done at the end of the school year, they will have built a home ready for a family to occupy.”
Even work that goes beyond students’ current skill set – plumbing, for example, or excavation – still provides chances to learn through interesting mentoring opportunities. A couple of students considering careers as electricians, for example, were able to work with the project’s sub-contracted electrician to get a great inside look at the field.
“What I typically do with our three main sub-contractors – our electrician, our plumber and our heating and cooling contractor – is I ask the students if they have any
great interest in any of those three areas,” Myers said. “If they do, the sub-contractors are good enough to come here during class time and allow those students to job shadow them, to get a feel for it. We don’t want to consume their whole day and slow them down, but again, it comes back to relationships in the community, and the subcontractors’ willingness to take the extra time on the job and help the student who might become an electrician or a plumber someday.”
The CTE/GCLBA arrangement, in simple terms, calls for the GCLBA to acquire dilapidated, blighted properties on which CTE Construction Trades students build new homes. The home is then sold to a local family, and the proceeds pay for the acquisition of property for future construction sites.
Students gain valuable hands-on experience, and the community gains aesthetically improved properties whose occupants pay taxes. CGLBA Chair Christy Van Tiem said whenever a blighted structure can be replaced with a new home, the community comes out on top.
“I feel it is a win-win for both CTE kids and the Gladwin County Land Bank Authority,” Van Tiem added. “As the GCLBA funds the home projects, the kids build the homes under the supervision of their instructors. Then the land bank sells the home so that we can continue with the next project. These projects bring new housing for families either in or relocating to our county.”
“We’re getting a lot of experience,” said Gladwin Senior Jacob Woods. “We’re actually out here building a house. I think this experience will look really good on our résumés. We started with a hole in the ground and now we’re sitting here talking in a house that we built. We’ve learned a lot, and we’ve come a long way. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life – it’s something special.”