Construction to begin soon on Barbara Jordan HS for Careers

Barbara Jordan High School for Careers soon will get a new facility that will transform career and technical education and boost workplace readiness for students at nine surrounding high schools.

Construction on the $36.6 million building, located at the junction of the Eastex Freeway and the East Loop, could start as early as March, with the goal of finishing in time for the 2018-2019 school year.
“I’m fond of saying this is probably the best kept secret in HISD,” Jordan Principal Ross McAlpine said Tuesday during a community meeting held to discuss construction plans and timelines for the new facility. “We have the best students and staff.”

The campus is one of 40 HISD schools, including 29 high schools, being rebuilt or renovated under the district’s 2012 Bond Program.

Formerly a career magnet school, Jordan is transitioning into a regional Career Hub, allowing area students to spend half the day at their home school and the other half at Jordan participating in specialized, high-demand career curriculum. The programs are open to students zoned to Northside, Furr, Kashmere, North Forest, Heights, Sam Houston, Washington, Wheatley, and Yates high schools.

Designed to enhance Jordan‘s career readiness efforts, the new building features a mix of spaces for a variety of programs. One side of the school will house large labs for construction, welding and other noisy programs, while the other side features quieter programs, such as cosmetology and early childhood development.

A learning commons with a large learning staircase will be located in the center of the school, providing a place for students to gather for studying, impromptu lectures, or career exploration programs. On the second level, the human sciences wing will host programs such as allied health and medical biotech. Math classrooms and the video production lab also will be located on this floor.

“I’m excited about the potential to usher in 22st century learning experiences,” said audio/visual teacher Melvin Harris. “I can’t wait to get my lab and work with the kids to build leaders of tomorrow.”

The main entrance of the new school will face Kelley Street, with bus traffic coming in at the rear of the building off the Eastex feeder road.

Students will remain in the current school until the new facility is compete. Once the new school opens, crews will begin demolishing the old building to make way for parking and green space.

“We’re really excited to see this project break ground and get underway,” Corgan Architect Nicholas Bank said during the community meeting. A groundbreaking ceremony is expected later this spring.

Kiwana Francis, a professor at Lone Star Collage and a 1993 graduate of Jordan, said she liked that the school would offer industry certification and dual credit programs to help prepare students for life after graduation.

“I think the career exploration center is a nice touch,” she said. “It seems to be conducive to learning.”

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