Schools in DFW area offer Jordan HS planners a glimpse of 21st century CTE spaces

HISD educators are looking at the district’s $1.89 billion building program as a unique opportunity to align their buildings with 21st century education – especially career and technical programs.

During a daylong tour on April 8, five Project Advisory Team members from Barbara Jordan High School and HISD planning and design staff got a firsthand look at two Dallas-area high schools designed especially for career and technical education: Grand Prairie’s Dubiski Career High School and Hollenstein Career and Technology Center in Fort Worth. It was an opportunity for the team, which is helping to shape the design of the school, to observe 21st century schools in action.

“A helpful step in planning a new school is experiencing these kinds of spaces in person,” said HISD senior facility planner Clay Clayton. “It’s a long day with a lot of concepts to absorb, but ultimately these tours are one of the most helpful tools as PAT members go forward in conceptualizing their new school.”

At Hollenstein Career and Technology Center, PAT members learned that students are enrolled at their home campus and take their advanced career and technology education classes at HCTC, with buses providing transportation to and from the student’s home campus. Students can choose between 10 different programs at the school, including auto technology, culinary arts, cosmetology, health science technology, and planning and construction.

The school features an “inside-out” approach, with a large wooden tiered seating space at the heart of the school. The seating opens to a flexible conference center utilized districtwide for training. Wayfinding for individual programs is marked with color-coded signage and flooring.

HCTC’s program was particularly interesting to the HISD team, because Jordan High School is transitioning to become a HUB school for career and technology students across the district.

“We got to talk about scheduling and how they move students in and out of the building and how many courses a student might have throughout the day,” said Renee Zuelke, director of Career and Technology Education at HISD. “That’s really helpful as we think about Barbara Jordan High School.”

Dubiski Career High School resembles an office building, with a prominent multi-story presence along neighboring Highway 161. The school, which enrolls 1,500 students, offers 15 different CTE pathways to students on an application-only basis. The building features a center spiral staircase with breakout areas that are flexible and feature white boards and comfortable seating.

PAT members toured many of the school’s programs, including the school’s auto technology and collision repair department, which is housed in an adjacent building for EPA requirements. Instructors showcased some of their students’ recent accomplishments, such as rebuilding and restoring motorcycles and vehicles. The PAT also got to ask questions about equipment and installation.

“There are a lot of the things we’ll have to iron out when we start building this new school, because we want kids to select and really get hands-on and engaged with the careers that they are deciding to get into,” said Ross McAlpine, principal at Jordan High School.

“We want to make sure we have industry-standard spaces that are flexible that allow kids to do a lot more as we go through the decades,” he said.

Construction on Barbara Jordan High School is set to begin in the third quarter of 2016, with a targeted opening in the fall of 2018.

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