By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
S. M. Wilson & Co. is immersing itself into classrooms across the bi-state region, encouraging pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students to discover fun and challenging opportunities in the construction field.
SKILLED, a three-pronged initiative, provides learning opportunities starting in pre-kindergarten and extending throughout a construction professional’s career. The “discover” arm of SKILLED supports students from all experience levels as they get a first-hand, creative peek into what it might be like to work in the skilled trades one day. Kristyn Newbern, client development director at S. M. Wilson, said SKILLED is the firm’s hands-on, up-close program to introduce young people from age 3 through 18 to a future career path in the industry.
“We’re actively talking with schools, teachers and superintendents in St. Louis County as well as surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois,” said Newbern. “The classroom initiative is ever-evolving. Kindergartners are learning what a safety vest is, what’s on a toolbelt and how to recognize various construction vehicles. Middle school students are learning real-world construction challenges through group STEM activities. High school students are discovering specific career opportunities and touring active construction sites. Our employees are donating their time and energy to make this happen. It’s truly exciting to watch,” she added.
Inspiring the future of the skilled trades by making construction an approachable, fun and understandable opportunity for all ages is a key objective of SKILLED, according to Newbern. “Our goal is to enlighten students who might not yet have this perspective,” she said. “It has become a real value-added resource for our long-time clients and interested school districts.”
Hallsville School District near Columbia, MO – where S. M. Wilson is building a gymnasium and classroom additions – is an active participant in SKILLED. “Our first program with Hallsville took place in October,” Newbern said. “They selected 15 high school students with an interest in and an aptitude for construction. They spent time in our jobsite trailer where we introduced the project team, each of our career backgrounds and discussed the technical details of the construction project on their campus. Students then had an opportunity to interact with the entire construction team and tour the site. They’ve returned to the classroom but will come back in a month or two to see the progress as they continue learning about real-world construction challenges and solutions.”
Augusta Elementary in the School District of Washington, MO will feature SKILLED as part of its annual career day. Grades K-6 will rotate in sessions to participate in a STEAM activity simulating a construction project. “Each grade had the chance to build its own unique construction project,” Newbern said. “Even at the kindergarten level, there’s an opportunity for students to draw their project on paper, build and test it, then draw conclusions and present to their peers. Older students will form teams, selecting a baseball-like card and playing the role of a contractor, engineer or architect. SKILLED is introducing a wealth of STEM and STEAM education while getting kids excited about a career in construction.”
For more information on SKILLED, contact Newbern at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314.633.9641.