Construction Helps York Students Answer, “Where Do I Belong?”

28 September 2016

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High school is often a place where young people try to answer the question, “Where do I belong?” You may remember what it feels like during those years switching interests, friends, and goals for the future.

“Who am I? What am I good at? Who do I want to be?”

Our students at the Crispus Attucks Charter School ask themselves these same questions. Our staff helps them discover the unrevealed answers with career exploration opportunities, case management, and one more unexpected tool – construction training.

As a YouthBuild affiliate, our school supports YouthBuild’s vision to “unleash the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives, breaking the cycle of poverty with a commitment to work, education, family, and community.”

The majority of our students have never worked with power tools or built anything before. A few might have minimal experience from York County School of Technology or household projects, but most feel out-of-place in the construction world. How can you feel capable to rebuild your community and your life when the loud, shrill noises and pure power of the tools intimidate you? For five years, it has been Tyler Kline’s role as the Technology Education Coordinator to inspire this confidence in our students.

Crispus Attucks Charter School students learn about power tools in York“We teach construction because it’s important that the students learn the benefit of giving back to the community through service. We use construction training as a way to empower students to recognize the change they are capable of being in the community,” Mr. Kline shared.

Before they hit the work sites rehabilitating York’s blighted homes into affordable housing units, students must learn the basics of safety and construction. Mr. Kline’s strategy for inspiring students to see their full potential has evolved overtime. He said, “When I first started, I taught everything from the textbook and packets. But based on the student evaluations, we went from handout assignments to hands-on projects.” Students master terminology and technical execution through interactive projects building anything from iPad docks to creative storage solutions. They sell their finished projects and use the profits to sustain these meaningful, learning opportunities with funds for more supplies.Crispus Attucks Students practice construction skills with hands-on projects

These learning projects really engage young people in the school’s goal of instilling responsibility and strong character. Each year, Mr. Kline relishes in the stories students gleefully share about how they leveraged their classroom knowledge to benefit them outside of school. Through construction training, each student has the opportunity to serve more than 600 hours investing in the community. For almost 20 weeks, hardworking students like Katelynn Torres went to her work site with pride and determination, knowing that what she accomplished that day would directly improve another community member’s life.

This experience allowed Katelynn to graduate with the irrefutable knowledge that she is capable of achieving great things, that she can make a difference in this world, and that she has support to face the unknowns in her life. When students develop skills in a new area, they feel accomplished and courageous to go after their other technical and professional interests. We cannot answer the larger questions our students ask themselves, but we do prepare them with the confidence, character, and skills to pursue the next step to their bright future.

Our students are always learning and you can be a part of that process! If you have a wood project idea, please contact Mr. Kline.

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