JISD’s renovated CTE building receives positive feedback

Instructor Erin Reynolds describes the use of equipment for a health-science class during an open house of Jacksonville High School’s newly renovated CTE building on Thursday.

Part of Jacksonville ISD's $21-million-bond package project came to fruition Thursday, as school leaders led a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Jacksonville High School's newly renovated CTE building.

“We owe a lot of people a debt of gratitude for what you've given our students,” JISD Superintendent Dr. Chad Kelly told a crowd of about 100 people on hand for the event. “The community was very generous with us – 80 percent of our community actually voted for the project, and we're very excited about that.”

The CTE building project – one of two that the 2017 bond package focuses on, the other being renovation of the Tomato Bowl stadium – resulted in a building that increased in size, going from 26,656 square feet to 38,231 square feet.

Three new classrooms were added to the facility, and space in the school's ag shop has doubled; a new welding shop with adequate room and ventilation was included, along with extra storage space and restrooms.

Architects designed the changes with faculty and students in mind, Kelly said. “Everything you see has a teacher's touch to it, that was very important to us and to our architects.”

According to JISD board president Jeff Horton, “91 percent of our students come through these halls every day. That's just unbelievable … from (Principal Karen) Kubara, all the way down to every person who works on this campus, this CTE program is unbelievable.”

Jacksonville High School offers nine different career pathways through its CTE program: Agricultural sciences – Animal Science (veterinary Technology); Agricultural Sciences – Mechanics; Agricultural Sciences – Plant Sciences; Audio Visual Production; Business and Finance; Education and Training; Health Science; Hospitality and Tourism – Culinary Arts; and Transportation, Distribution and Logistics, led by 13 instructors, according to www.jisd.org.

Instructor Erin Reynolds said the staff moved from a nearby portable building where classes were held, into the newly renovated CTE building before the holiday break.

While it's been an adjustment, she said, both staff and students are excited about being in the facility because there's more space. “They're all excited.”

She and fellow health science instructor Abby Eckerd have approximately 250 students under their tutelage, so being asked for design input helps them “be able to teach more hands-on."

“We're going to be able to give them much more practical learning experiences. In the portables, everything we had was stuffed in there, plus kids. Now we are spread out,” Reynolds said.

The lab is where “we can just play,” while across the hallway, two classrooms separated by a folding partition allow classes to interact when needed, she said.

“They get to learn and have fun at the same time,” she said.