KJTMA Students Mark National Construction Week

Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy Hosts Unique Program to Help Increase Awareness and Diversity in Construction Industry Amongst Students
Posted on 11/11/2022
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Teamwork really does make the dream work, especially in the construction industry. During National Construction Week approximately 60 DeSoto ISD third-graders at the Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy (KJTMA) learned the power of teams from the McCarthy Holdings Construction professionals who visited their campus.

Each classroom of students began their engagement session with a brief industry introductory presentation by the McCarthy team which allowed the students to hear firsthand about the daily experiences and projects of construction workers from project design to the actual building of physical structures. Following the presentations, McCarthy staff offered students hands-on experiences using legos to explain the importance of safety and several key skills used by construction workers.

The young students were engaged throughout the visit and asked a myriad of questions from the largest structures built, their familiarity with various machines to how well the workers  balance workplace culture while on project sites.

Full of excitement and smiles at the close of the visit with McCarthy,  Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy third grader Skylar Dupree shared her experience.

“Construction is tough and you really have to use teamwork to do it,” said Dupree as she showcased her mini construction worker essentials kit, which included a measuring tape, leveler, notepad and pen. “I like seeing new people and learning new things. I did not know about levels, but now I do.”

Levels, the proper use of safety materials and the practice of listening, teamwork and communication were all part of the lesson students learned during the interactive morning of engagement with McCarthy professionals.

KJTMA Third Grade Science and Social Studies teacher Brandon Knox appreciates this real world connection for his students. 

“They showed how construction impacts our community, our state and local services and how they can build and that they can learn engineering, mechanical engineering and any skill that they will need,” Knox said. “They were able to see that there is more to the world than what we teach them at school. They saw how subjects like art and architecture are important and how it all blends together as a whole.”

For third grader Brayden Person, the experience felt closer to home as he became excited to understand more about the daily work of his father.

“I learned that they plan stuff to build and use machines with a lot of tools to do construction,” Brayden said. “My dad works for a cement company and has a cement truck. He does cement for roads and houses and the construction people build on top of that and when I grow up, I want to be a construction person like my dad.”

McCarthy Building Company Regional President Brian Custer and several members of the company spent time within all three classes of third graders simultaneously answering questions and guiding them through the steps of the learning activity.

“We talked about all that is inclusive of the construction field - the projects that we do, the opportunities that exist in construction and how construction can be a lot of fun. We also talked about listening and teamwork, levels and all the tools we use in the field, shared Custer. “During the building activity, one student had to really focus on giving instructions and the other student on listening. It was a lot of fun and I think the students really enjoyed it.” 

The 60 students were placed in teams of two to practice the art of listening and communication when building a structure. Specifically, the students stood with their backs turned to each other and one student was the designer and the other was the builder. The designer quickly built a lego structure and had to accurately explain to their builder  how to replicate their design without looking. After completing the instructions and building taks, the students faced each to measure their success.

“The construction workers came and I learned about the work that construction workers do and that they build places like stadiums, skyscrapers, and houses. They use liquid to make concrete stay in place.” said Jaslyn Navarro. “They get to build places that they have never been to before and then get to walk in it and check it out.”

Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy Principal Dr. Michelle Neely spent the morning celebrating this moment with her teachers and students and even was asked to participate in a lego building activity with one of the teachers. She embraces this and others' experiences because of its lasting impact and aid in helping students learn and grow to their highest levels.

“At Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet, we try to create signature experiences for our students around industries that are prominent in the Dallas- Fort Worth area. I hope that our students got out of this experience that teamwork and collaboration are things that they are doing in the classroom and that these skills will transfer into the real world and into their professional lives,” explained Dr. Neely. “I also hope that they understand that construction is a viable career and that if they do well in the math and science classes, they can work and travel and have a good career.” 

In addition to spending time with DeSoto ISD students, the McCarthy team also presented Dr. Neely a box of school supplies and some tokens of support for the campus teachers and students.

Construction Inclusion Week objective is to build awareness of the need to improve diversity and inclusion in the construction industry by providing content and resources.The week also embraces a curriculum that affords students the opportunity to meet with industry professionals, understand the various roles of the construction team, and how teamwork and communication apply to field operations while gaining early exposure to career-based industries like engineering and construction with the goal of  assisting with the diversifying the field of future professionals.

Learn more about National Construction Inclusion programs at ConstructionInclusionWeek.org and at #NationalConstructioninclusionweek.