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When I grow up I want to be……an architect!

When I grow up I want to be……an architect!

A group shot from the summer program

Junior high school is an incredibly fun and often difficult time for kids. I distinctly remember the pressures of making friends, maturing gracefully, and balancing school with social activities. But that was over 20 years ago for me and today’s kids have even more pressures with the advancement of technology, numerous social media distractions, fear of being bullied, and an extremely competitive college application process. Today’s students need to develop their resumes early and figure out their career path even before they are all grown up.

For the model building exercise, students were asked to dream up their own space...and then build it!

John Adams Middle School (JAMS) in Santa Monica offers their students, as an elective class, a mentorship program called Vision 7/8 where the school pairs the students with local companies based on the students’ interests. The apprenticeship program occurs during the spring semester each year for two hours each week for a total of eight weeks. This structure allows adequate time for professionals to not only educate and inspire the students towards a potential career path, but also establish and cultivate a relationship with them.

I am fortunate to mentor several JAMS students each year. Most of the students enter the program with little or no understanding of architecture or what architects do. Together, we explore various facets of architecture and design. We build models and break models - testing the structural strength of them. We share drawing techniques, study colors and materials, and tour MRY’s local Santa Monica Public Library. Leadership from John Adams Middle School remarked that through the program “students who rarely got excited about education became transformed over an eight-week period. Students began their apprenticeship as disinterested; they ended up as engaged, informed, and inspired."

What surprises me most about participating in the program is not only how invaluable the experience is for the students, but also how much I get out of it as well. I began mentoring students to give back to my local community and to help troubled students stay out of trouble. In the process, however, I am reminded that I love being an architect. I love being creative and solving problems. The students without a doubt reenergize me, and I have no doubt the students are energized too. It is a win-win experience, one that I can hopefully partake in for years to come.