TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Seventeen years ago Tuba City High School began offering a construction technology course when Career Technical Education (CTE) teacher Robert Windmiller became the residential construction instructor.
Over the course of those seventeen years the program has expanded and covers a wider range of construction techniques. The school pays for each student to take ten hours of Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety standards on-line coursework. The course includes intense work with hand and professional power tools and students create and design projects using green technology like passive solar.
One of Tuba City High construction students' ongoing projects is building 8 by 10 foot storage sheds. The school district purchases the sheds for use in teacher housing and office areas and outside clients buy the sheds to support the program as well.
Windmiller is originally from Illinois. He came to Tuba City 24 years ago and had never worked with Native students or visited a reservation. His cousin, Brien Durham, had worked at Tuba City High and taught a government class at Tuba City High school. Durham told Windmiller many wonderful stories about how culturally rich this area was, which drew Windmiller to the area.
Windmiller's program is designed around the state standards for Arizona residential construction. He encourages his students to take at least four semesters of his coursework along with every math program offered at the school. He also encourages his students to take a physics class, which he says is extremely helpful with construction technology.
Windmiller said his students are bright, inquisitive and thorough in their work projects.
"It's a lot of fun to work with the them," he said. "I'm especially proud of our students who have gone on to to serious careers in construction when they graduated from Tuba City High. We have one particular student, Robyn Haskey, who went on to Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University to study engineering. She is the first female Tuba City High student in the construction program to do so. Haskey recently honored me as an 'Educator Who made a Difference in My Life.' I was deeply honored by this. I'm way proud of my students."
Tuba City High construction students started their own club called the "Design, Engineering and Construction Students for Sustainability Club."
Not only have club members built storage sheds, but they have also built and sold outhouses. With their profits, the students have been able to take construction education field trips and also recreational rafting trips on the Colorado River with the Grand Canyon Youth program. The students have visited award winning buildings and construction art sites like Arcosanti and the Del Webb School of Construction Management at Arizona State University.
On the rafting trips, the construction students learn hazard recognition skills, geology facts and learn about the impact of water development and use on water resources in the southwest.
More information about the storage sheds or outhouses for sale and the construction program is available from Tuba City High School at (928) 283-1051.