Academic + Technical = Success at skilled trades academy in Washington, DC

Charter School and CTE Academies open new education and training facility in Ward 7

Rigorous academic studies and accredited skilled trades technical courses expand college and career options for high school students at IDEA Public Charter School in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON (November 17, 2015) – Students, teachers, community leaders, building industry executives, and District government officials joined IDEA Head of School Justin Rydstrom and Board President John McMahon, of the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation, at the grand opening of the new skilled trades education and training facility on IDEA’s historic campus in Northeast Washington. On November 4, DOES Director Deborah Carroll delivered a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser at the facility’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, kicking off U.S. Department of Labor National Apprenticeship Week events in the District of Columbia, co-sponsored with the D.C. Department of Employment Services, Office of Apprenticeship, Information and Training.

High Demand Jobs
Event emcee Carol Randolph, chief operating officer of the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation, said, “Education and training for high demand skilled trades jobs continues to be vital in the District of Columbia as evidenced by the interest and involvement of government officials and the school, industry, community and faith-based leaders who joined us to open this new facility."

DOES reports the District of Columbia currently has 14,900 construction jobs, an increase of 2.1 percent from a year ago. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of skilled electricians and carpenters will grow more than 20 percent during this decade due to construction and remodeling of homes and buildings with efficient energy and technology features.

DC Students Construction Trades Foundation, an NCCER accredited training sponsor, generated financial and in-kind support to build construction technology and renewable energy classrooms at IDEA.

“We are fortunate to have tremendous support from industry developers, general contractors, sub-contractors and vendors who believe in the value of mentoring and teaching kids about construction career paths,” said veteran chief executive John McMahon, who leads the board of directors and industry advisory council for the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation’s mission and programs.

Academic + Technical = Success for today's graduates

The skilled trades facility is the new home of the Academy of Construction and Design, which moved its operations to IDEA this year from Cardozo High School where the pioneering CTE academy was launched in 2005.

Scott Pearson, executive director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board said, “This Academy is one more step in IDEA's march to being one of the best schools in DC."

Integrated Design and Electronics Academy opened in 1998, in its historic location in Deanwood, as one of the original charters established by the former D.C. Board of Education. In 2012, Head of School Justin Rydstrom and IDEA’s board of trustees oversaw the structuring of the school’s math and reading curriculum which led to IDEA being rated one of the District’s top-performing schools in 2014.

"The Academy of Construction and Design fits in perfectly with IDEA's existing programs in architectural design, Microsoft Academy, and JROTC, all of which help our scholars prepare for success in college, the workforce, or the military--whichever path they choose,” said Head of School Justin Rydstrom. “Our scholars are already learning the fundamentals of safety, construction, and electrical work--skills which will open up abundant opportunities for them."

Registered Apprenticeship leads to postsecondary credentials
The training facility at IDEA is also the new home of the DC Apprenticeship Academy. Since 2009, the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation has sponsored evening classes in partnership with DOES, offering all levels of apprenticeship related instruction for employees of general contractors and specialty sub-contractors in the District of Columbia. Apprentice trainees earn while they learn, completing four years of classes combined with requisite hours of on-the-job training.

At the ribbon cutting, Beth Moore, program director for the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation acknowledged, "As we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we are honored to continue our partnership with DOES and the Office of Apprenticeship and Training to bring employers and District residents the knowledge and skills apprentices need to be successful in their careers."

More education options for Ward 7
Rigorous academics, high school CTE, and registered apprenticeship classes in a secure, well-equipped, community-based facility open up new opportunities for youth and adults in D.C. communities east of the Anacostia River. 

“We have to offer every option to our young people,” said Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, addressing educators, employers and training partners at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

This year, IDEA students are putting math, blueprint reading, natural science and social studies learning into practice on projects that include a student-built micro house and 9th grade curriculum to design, build and operate a Youth Farmers Market that will serve the school and its surrounding community.

“Telling kids to do well at school, so they can get into college is too vague for all but the most highly motivated students,” said Shelly Karriem, director of the Academy of Construction and Design. “Hands-on learning in our CTE academy helps more students figure out what they like to do, what they are good at doing, and what steps they can take to turn their interests and abilities into good-paying jobs, further education, and real careers.”

Also See Related:

Tiny Houses And Micro-Units: Small Living Going Big In D.C.?, WAMU 88.5, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, 11/12/15

Construction Academy Gives More Options to Ward 7 High Schoolers, East of the River News magazine, Oct 2015

American Graduate Day: Academy of Construction and Design, WHUT TV, 10/3/15, video

Former Academy of Construction and Design Student Returns to Teach, IDEA PCS News, Sept 2015 

Academy of Construction and Design Students Build a Micro House, Micro Showcase blog, Fall 2014

Media Inquiries:
Paula Ralph, DC Students Construction Trades Foundation, Media and Community Relations: 301.622.4145 or;

Justin Rydstrom, IDEA Head of School: 202.281.0001 or;