Rome Middle School students in the system’s construction pathway are making picnic tables for use at lunchtime at the College and Career Academy.

It’s just one of many projects — such as cross-country team practice bridges and a swing for special needs students — the budding builders have taken on in their class.

“We do a lot around the schools, and all of my students really enjoy that work,” said their teacher, Jacob Addison. “Whether that is building furniture for teachers or other helpful items for organizations around Rome Middle, the students are never without something to do. It shows when they eagerly file into the classroom ready to learn.”

Addison, who’s been an educator at Rome Middle for eight years, said his favorite part of the career pathways program is seeing students discover what they like to do.

“When these kids get to middle school, it is the first time they are given a little dose of freedom; they get to pick some of their interests to study, whether that is construction, agriculture, nursing or even sports,” he said.

He said the hands-on pathways also allow teachers to establish one-on-one relationships with students that would not be possible in a typical classroom setting.

“I absolutely love being able to build these relationships with my students, and really get to know them and make connections,” he said. “The construction pathway allows the students the freedom to explore their interests and make decisions about what they like or don’t like before moving into the CCA in high school.”

The construction pathway at Rome Middle School is designed to be multifaceted. Addison said there are four basic components: safety, measuring, blueprints and build. With the structure in place, he said, the course becomes “a wide-open canvas” that he and his students get to paint as they go.

“When I break it down for them, it opens the door for possibilities in construction. If it fits our curriculum, we can do it,” Addison said,

While the name indicates it’s for students interested in construction as their career, Addison said the lessons also are useful for those who might want to study architecture, engineering, or even public service.

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