Eighth grade students from Greenville Early College joined Donaldson Career Center building-construction students and worked together to build a tiny shelter for Greenville’s homeless population to use.
“This project is actually the modification and extension of a project I did last year,” said Greenville Early College English teacher Rebekah Genovese. “Originally, I wanted to build a tiny house. I wanted my children to research homelessness and wanted them to build tiny houses. I went to Habitat and they said, ‘It was a great idea, but you have got to baby-step it first.’”
Following Habitat’s advice, Genovese and her students performed research and built a scale model. At the end of the school year, she approached principal Marjon Ford and was given a budget of $1,000 to cover building the tiny shelter.
Before starting on the plans for the tiny shelter, Genovese said that she had her students do additional research and build other scale models. They consulted with students from the Fine Arts Center on how the shelter would need to be built and where they could put it.
“At first it started out as a little homeless project, learning about the homeless,” said Early College student Alexis Mcghee. “Then we learned that we would be making a shelter for the homeless. We just started off making the model and I thought we were going to just going to do the model. Then we learned that we would be making an actual shelter for someone to live in. Once we did that, everyone got excited because this is the first really big project we have done with us being at the school for three years. Our main goal is to just help people. We just know that someone will have a safer place to live.”
Once Genovese’s students completed their research, she contacted building-construction technology teacher Dennis Pederson about his class at Donaldson Center helping her class with this project.
In addition to the Early College students researching the project, they helped the Donaldson Center students with some of the construction. The next step for the tiny shelter is figuring out where it needs to go, Genovese said.
“This collaboration between Greenville Early College and the Donaldson Career Center is exposing students at two schools and two grade levels to the needs in our community and how they can be of service,” said Dr. Burke Royster, superintendent of Greenville County Schools. “Early College students are learning quality research skills, teamwork and business relations. It allows Donaldson Center’s high school building and construction students to become teachers and use the trade skills they’ve learned in the classroom to complete a real-world project. This exemplifies the type of hands-on experience necessary to ensure students are prepared for the next step, whether that is college or career.”