The tiny house is where big dreams are born.
The house is located on the yard between the welding and construction classrooms at Apache Junction High School. It’s 8 feet wide, 10 feet high and 12 feet long.
The house is not so much a living space as it is a learning space. It’s where students in Enrique Reyes’ construction technology class for the East Valley Institute of Technology learn skills that translate into jobs and careers.
Carpentry. Electrical work. Plumbing. Drywall. Construction design. Commercial drawings. Steel framing. The list goes on and on.
Kayden Lopez was one of those students. Lopez graduated from Apache Junction High School in May 2021. Prior to that he had been in the EVIT program for three years. Upon graduating, he got a job at Sundt Construction, a job he credits in part to the hands-on education he received in that house on the AJHS campus.
“It really prepared me and made me more professional,” Lopez said. “It prepared me for any scenario. I’m getting a lot of compliments for me knowing what I’m doing and that’s because of the experience I had in EVIT.”
Lopez isn’t the only AJHS student to benefit from the EVIT program. Hunter Mayes, Xander Back and Sigfrido Ibarra got hired by La Mesa RV in Mesa.
Reyes said companies not only welcome students from EVIT, they actually recruit them. Sundt even donated gear like helmets, goggles and vests for students to wear.
“I invite companies all the time to see what we’re doing,” said Reyes, whose current class has 52 students, most of them from Apache Junction High School.
Those companies see students who are getting the type of experience that employers crave.
“They want someone they can rely on,” Lopez said.
Reyes’ class begins with students learning core skills like handling power tools, basic grading, etc. They move on to carpentry, building materials, electrical and plumbing, etc., and eventually help build the house from the ground up.
All of the graduates are recognized by the National Center for Construction Education and Research. They receive a card number, which allows companies to verify that they have been certified.
“Companies fight over our students,” Reyes said. “They want our guys.”
Editor’s note: Scott Bordow is Apache Junction Unified School District’s director of communications and community engagement.