Vocational Education Matters; That's Why This Project Is Sitting On The Capitol Lawn

Mar 27, 2017


It’s going to be a noisy day in Olympia, Monday. The Capitol will be teeming with builders wielding hammers and nails; not inside the dome, but on the lawn outside.

Jared Eaton is a junior at Aberdeen High School. His construction class –what old-timers know as “shop” -- is one of more than 20 from across the state that has carted its handiwork within yards of the Capitol steps.

"There's two windows and a door, which makes it feel really cool," said Eaton.

The students are putting the finishing touches on tiny houses they built back at school. The structures will eventually house homeless people in Seattle. But for now, it’s a chance for students to show off new skills.  

Marina Parr with the Workforce Board, the state agency that helps ensure Washingtonians get education and job training, says vocational education, known as career and technical education, is having a renaissance right now and hopefully lawmakers will notice.

"Putting a spotlight on it is really helpful because so often people can talk about different education initiatives, but until they actually see it, it's more theoretical to them," said Parr.

Cory Martinsen, the shop teacher at Aberdeen High School, says some kids really thrive doing hands-on work, and he pushes the idea that skills learned in his class, like teamwork, make you a better employee in any profession.

 "Not every kid out there is going to be a college-bound person. And that is totally fine," said Martinsen. "Giving kids interest in a potential trade in high school might kind of light the fire to maybe give them an idea of what they might want to do with their life," he said.

Back to Jared Eaton, the student, he says he’s learned stuff in shop that he doesn’t necessarily get in math. And with building this tiny house, he says, "I feel like it'll give people a sense of hope that they know that they have somewhere to go, to be able to just feel safe in a home."

And that’s another type of satisfaction.