Around the back of Wunsche High School, it looks like an active construction zone.
The sound of drills fill the air, students are busy painting, solar panels are being installed, and an instructor is showing a group how to run electrical wiring for the kitchen. These students are building a fully functional house, but in miniature.
That’s because these students – enrolled in the Construction Management Pathway at Wunsche – are building a tiny home, which clocks in at just over a hundred square feet or so. But inside that home is everything that word would imply: a bed, a small kitchen, a sitting area, all run by the solar panels installed on the roof.
“Our students are getting hands-on, real-world experiences,” Cynthia Williams, the Career and Technical Education Director for Spring ISD, said. “They’re learning how to run electrical through the house. They’re installing solar panels.”
It is all part of a program, new this year, that aims to build a fully-functioning tiny house that will eventually be donated to a community member in need. It was made possible through grant funding, coordinated by the CTE department, as well as business partners like Mountaintop Development who supplied the solar panels.
“We want to teach the kids that this industry is strong,” Willie Drew, Executive Director of Mountaintop Development, said. “It’s not going anywhere. These are good jobs, and they can have a successful career doing this.”
Each student in the pathway typically gets two certifications before they even graduate. Students get OSHA 30-Hour Training, a safety course, and National Center for Construction Education and Research certification, both without any money out of their own pocket. These are certifications that companies require employers to have, and typically workers must pay for the certifications on their own.
“For us to be able to give our students this opportunity to graduate with certifications where they can just go into the workforce or continue their education, it’ll give them a step-up,” Williams said. “Our students are getting while they’re in high school. All they have to do is show their credentials, and companies are happy to hire them because they’re already coming in prepared.”
For Betsaida De La Paz, a junior in the program, it was an easy decision.
“In the future, I’ll have the experience of making this tiny house. I can say that and it’ll help [me] more,” she said. “This is a lot of fun, too. Whatever you want to make, you can just construct.”
Though this is the first of its kind project in Spring ISD, the district’s business partners are already looking to the future.
“This is the future. Our future is right here,” Drew said. “This is the industry, and we want to tap into that. We want to make sure they’re ready as they graduate.”