Building Futures program receives national award
By: Allison Chorney
| Posted: Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 10:33 am
In the first year George McDougall High School has offered the Building Futures, the program has been recognized on a national level and was awarded second place in the Canadian Education Association’s (CEA) 2014 Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.
The program follows the Alberta Education curriculum for Grade 10 while students engage in the construction of two houses and work towards earning a Residential Construction Site Manager Level One Academic accreditation.
“It’s very humbling. We set out to help a few kids and it turned into something that works better than we thought it would,” said Jarret Hooper, Building Futures teacher.
Hooper and fellow Building Futures teacher Greg Rankin said they thought they were applying for a grant when they set their application to CEA, and were surprised when they started getting attention for winning second place.
The award recognizes the teachers for leveraging teacher expertise beyond their subject areas to provide inquiry-based, real-world learning that takes the classroom outside school walls, according to a Rocky View Schools (RVS) publication.
It also comes with a $3,000 prize for the program, which Rankin said they hope to use to complete a newspaper project the students have been working on and bobcat training.
“I’m not surprised with the success (of the program),” Rankin said.
“But I am surprised with the recognition.”
Two of the program’s students, Brayden Ziegler and Christina Toteda, were on hand at the March 6 Rocky View Schools (RVS) board of trustees meeting where they expressed how much the program has meant to them.
“I think it’s just a great program,” Ziegler said, adding it has helped him realize he wants to pursue a career in project management specializing in becoming an electrician.
“It’s really preparing me for the future,” Toteda said, adding she’s learning life skills.
“The project is about learning, it’s not about building a house” said George McDougall Principal Ed Polhil at the meeting.
“Absolutely anybody can do it,” Ziegler said of the program.
“Everybody can fit in this program. No learners fell behind or anything like that.”
The program would not be possible without the partnership from McKee Homes, the homebuilders behind the two houses the students are helping to build, and both Rankin and Hooper sang praise of their employees and the partnership with the school.
“I can’t say enough about how lucky we are to have McKee,” Rankin said.
He added the model of the program doesn’t have to be just for construction.
“I think the true measure will be if it can be repeated in other schools,” he said.
“For teachers it would be really cool to take their passion and incorporate it into the program.”
RVS schools in Cochrane and Chestermere have shown interest in the program and are looking at adapting it to their community and business partners.
“I think you’ve been so successful that other students across Rocky View Schools would like to try this as well,” RVS Trustee Fiona Gilbert told the Building Futures students at the March 6 meeting, adding Cochrane is close to having similar program available.
“It’s an example to our community… that this is something we can work together at and make happen,” said RVS Trustee Sylvia Eggerer.