Manson High School has a new tiny project that is gaining big momentum. Several years ago, one our innovative teachers—who was also a general contractor prior to becoming a teacher—proposed an idea to create a class that would design and construct a Tiny House. However, as is often the case, funding was not available to purchase the equipment necessary to take on such a big task. The dream sat on the shelf for years, until we came across carryover dollars last school year from GEAR UP. Our superintendent, Matt Charlton, approached the teacher and put together a proposal to renovate our vocational technology department and purchase the woodworking tools needed to construct the Tiny House. GEAR UP approved the plan and the high school additions took place over the summer. We proudly commissioned our Tiny House class on the first day of school. It is an elective that high school students can choose each trimester.
There are currently 16 students in the class. There are two student project managers that delegate the workflow on a daily basis. The students designed floorplans, sketched elevation plans, and built seven different prototypes of the Tiny House out of balsawood. Then over the course of three days, community members, teachers, and students were invited to vote on their favorites. After the votes were tallied and the “winner” of the prototypes was chosen, the students went to work on the planning and construction of the house. The students will participate in every step: design, framing, plumbing, electrical, insulation, drywall, siding, roofing, finishes.
The Tiny House is not only a very timely and applicable class for our students in the valley because of the nature of the growing construction field in our area, but it is also very beneficial to our people group. There are needs in our community for a commodity like this; with the rising prices of homes in the area and the lack of low-income housing, we are continually struggling to find affordable housing. The complete Tiny House project will serve as a means to generate jobs and housing possibilities for our community. There are local contractors that have expressed concern for the decreasing number of people entering the construction-field trades and have already vowed to hire students out of this class for summer jobs. In addition, there are currently seven people that have contacted our teacher to purchase one of our Tiny Houses. After the sale of our first Tiny House, we will be able to use the funds to purchase the materials for our second house and create a sustainable program.
Our partnership with CWU’s GEAR UP has awarded us the opportunity to further develop our vocational department and expand the students’ vision and possibilities through the hands-on experience of the vast areas involved in designing and constructing a house. The passion of teachers, vision of a superintendent, and GEAR UP funds allowed us to jumpstart a promising program for Manson High School.