New York City has 8,250,000 people and 975,000 buildings. It also has the only high school program in the country for hands-on masonry preservation, building conservation and green sustainable construction. This blog offers a glimpse into that program.
It was a pleasure to meet you at the International Trades Education Symposium (ITES)* in Leadville, CO. I was particularly interested to learn about your work with the Abyssinian Development Corporation's masonry preservation program. To my knowledge,this is the only hands-on preservation training program for high school age students in the country. Keep up the great work.
Andy Ferrell, LEED AP
Chief, Architecture and Engineering
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
At-risk youth receive hands-on training in masonry construction, preservation practices and green technology combined with life skill lessons and stories from U.S. history to build self- confidence, integrity and an appreciation of craftsmanship.
The Masonry Preservation program is part of the network of services provided by Abyssinian Development Corp. (ADC) through their “YouthBuild Workforce Development” division.
Through YouthBuild, Harlem youth, ages 17-24, work toward their high school equivalency diploma (GED) learn job skills and repair existing building stock to provide affordable housing for the community. YouthBuild integrates educational intruction, counseling and construction training,including green technology and masonry preservation.
Participants must be one or more of the following:
• A member of a low-income family OR
• A youth in foster care OR
• A youth offender OR
• The child of an incarcerated parent OR
• A migrant youth
• AND a high school drop out
Funding is provided by the Department of Labor with additional support from foundations, donors and volunteers assistance.
Tom Russack designed the curriculum from his Master's Thesis, "The Development of a Preliminary Masonry Preservation Training Program” and became the Program Instructor. Classes began in September, 2007 and were held in a Workshop/Classroom built in the basement of a housing project on West 123rd Street, Harlem. Twelve trainees were selected from twenty five attending the first class.
After nine months of training, in June, 2008 seven students receive their GED diplomas. One student secured full-time employment with a New York City masonry preservation company and earned the title of "Outstanding Masonry Preservation Student of 2008." He was also awarded a full set of new mason’s tools as the graduation ceremony.
In September 2008, at the onset of the program’s second year, the Workshop/classroom was transferred to a new location in the basement of a West 129th Street building incorporating better security, lighting, storage space and ventilation.
Approximately 40 students began the program in October, 2008 and 26 graduated in July, 2009. The most outstanding student was awarded masons's tools and a Cathedral Stone scholarship for stone repair training, worth of over $1,000.
The Program’s third year is to commence in early October, 2009 with the addition of a masonry instructor teaching basic masonry fundamentals, two days a week.
The Masonry Preservation Workshop and classroom activities undertaken throughout the 2009-2010 semester are the basis of this blog.
Seventh Avenue (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.) @ West 112th Street, Harlem, circa 1915...