How DSUSD builds a house with reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Not your traditional curriculum, but one that meets the needs of today’s students. If you don’t already know about Desert Sands Unified School District’s Career Technical Education programs (CTE), visit the DSUSD website here.

A Multitude of Newer Programs

DSUSD Builds A House

The students from left to right are Carlos Quinto Jr., Jakob McDougall, Kyle Handova, Jonathan Martinez, Raul Romero-Soto.

DSUSD CTE programs prepare students for a multitude of careers as they head to college or directly into the workplace. The building trades is one of the newer programs and is a collaboration among DSUSD, College of the Desert, and the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters. Both classroom instruction and hands-on building take place under the programming of Amistad High School at the Eisenhower Community Education Center, both located on Dillon Road in Indio. Students from across the district attend the classes taught by a COD professor and earn high school credits, college credits, and certificates for their potential career.

Creative Financing for Public Education

DSUSD Builds A House

Inside of House

Funded by a K12 Strong Workforce Grant, the latest in technology and tools were purchased along with up-to-date textbooks and support materials. Then came the real fun – building a house! The house is referred to as a “tiny home” and is built directly onto a trailer. The house is 20’ x 8’ and high enough to include a second floor sleeping loft that accommodates a king size mattress. Fully equipped with kitchen, bathroom, heating and air conditioning (including solar panels), and a retractable patio awning, the house will be ready to furnish when sold. The funds received from the sale of the house will go directly to the program for future projects. And, yes, the house will be for sale. Details will be available at the website above. Expectation is that the house will be on display at a Palm Springs Modernism event in April.

Mentoring New Roles and Professions

Amistad High School Principal David Gustafson, Ed. D., noted that the building of the house is a perfect example of the role that CTE programs play in student education. He noted that the project may lead students into the building trades or be the impetus to a college education in such programs as architecture or environmental design. “This project is a rethinking of housing,” said Gustafson. “It is innovative, is an efficient design, has great attention to detail, with a thoughtful approach to purpose.”

DSUSD Builds A House

Exterior House On Trailer

Gustafson further noted that the success of every program lies in the teacher. In this case it is Bert Bitanga, professor of architecture and environmental design at College of the Desert. Bitanga sought plans for the house from students and coordinated the final plans. Students from both COD and DSUSD have been involved every step of the way. Currently students from DSUSD include participants from Amistad, Indio, La Quinta, and Palm Desert high schools. The district provides transportation to the students to the Eisenhower site for their class work and the building of the house.

Discussions on the creation of the project began in early 2020. DSUSD Superintendent of Schools Scott Bailey spearheaded the project and has closely followed its progress. He recently led a tour of the construction process for board members, staff members, and the media. During the tour he spoke of the importance of CTE programs and noted…“we have this one nailed”!

Kevin Bibo, DSUSD director of college and career readiness, was also on hand and noted that this has been a multi-layered project from design to construction. The students agreed and showed off their skills to those on the tour. Wearing their project tee-shirts and showing off tool belts and the hi-tech equipment used to construct the house, the students proudly spoke with their guests. Indio High School student Raul Romero-Soto provided media with interviews in both English and Spanish. He spoke about his decision to join the team and his plans to both continue his education and join the workforce – a common theme for all the students.

For more information on this project and all DSUSD CTE programs, click here.

Image Sources

  • DSUSD-Student-Housebuilders-800×568-2: DSUSD
  • IMG-5276: DSUSD
  • House-Construction-1-800×568-1: DSUSD
  • House-Construction-FI-800×568-1: DSUSD