Students developed their carpentry, masonry, electrical and plumbing skills by making repairs with seasoned professionals inside Virginia Beach school buildings this past summer.
Jordan Pearson-Crawford, a Bayside High senior who is in her second year of the masonry program at the Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center, is one of six students who practiced their trades with the Office of Maintenance Services.
“I like laying brick and seeing what things look like after everything is put together,” said Jordan, who has also studied carpentry, plumbing and electricity at the Tech Center. When making masonry repairs at several schools, she learned how to make sure that replacement bricks match the color and style of the original construction.
“You don’t want to walk into a school, look at the bricks and be able to tell that repair has been done,” she said.
Jordan worked on three projects at Larkspur Middle School. Jordan helped repair some cracked block joints in classrooms and caulk the exterior fire box and speaker covers. She toothed out a section of block that had been under testing for leaks.
Jordan also worked on Rosemont Elementary School, cutting out mortar and cracked joints around the lintels for repair. Jordan helped set up, mixed mortar and tuckpointed some of the crack joints. And Jordan worked on North Landing Elementary School, where Jordan assisted setting up scaffolding and made brick repairs.
This is the first time a larger group of Tech Center students have worked for Maintenance Services, although one or two students have done so in the past. Organizers hope the program will grow next summer. All Tech Center students build a professional portfolio to help them find work, but the students in the summer program immediately put those resumes to work. They interviewed for their jobs and were asked the same questions as adult job candidates, said Michael Drewry, special projects coordinator.
“We needed the extra help,” Drewry said about the relationship between Maintenance Services and the Tech Center. “In turn, they have quality students here.”
David Swanger, director of the Tech Center, said the summer program gives students a wonderful opportunity.
“Our students need the experience of working in the real world, side by side with professionals,” Swanger said. “The program is a wonderful opportunity.”
“I definitely enjoyed it,” Stevens said.
Reggie Robinson, a junior at Bayside, said working on school projects helped him develop his electrical skills.
“I can now fix some things at home,” he said.
Jordan would like to be an architect and may attend Tidewater Community College for two years before transferring to a four-year university.
“Doing masonry work helps me, because I know the inside details of being an architect,” she said. “If I design a house or school, I’ll know the masonry work behind the architecture.”
Being a woman in the building trades may be a challenge, as there aren’t as many role models, she said.
“I’ll have to prove that my work is just as good as anyone else’s,” she said. Fortunately, the Tech Center takes pride in fostering a diverse and supportive environment for all students, Swanger said.
“Every child in this building is supportive of their peers,” Swanger said. “The person working next to them is their teammate.”