January-February 2020 | Parenting

Edison 2.0

At the recently rebuilt Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Silver Spring, students are learning the latest skills in carpentry, law enforcement and more

Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Chris Haddad teaches a one-semester construction cluster program, foundations of building construction technology, which exposes students to carpentry, electricity, plumbing, masonry, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. “My program is a sampling of the construction industry. At the end of the semester, students can then make an educated decision about which specialized trade they want to go to for the next year and a half,” says Haddad, a carpenter who owned a business and worked as a project manager at a remodeling company before coming to Edison to teach.

Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Paraeducator Paul Ross guides students as they load windows into a truck for a trip to a nearby jobsite in Colesville, where they’re building a house. Different teams of students in the construction cluster—carpentry, electricity, plumbing, masonry, architecture, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning—work on the house almost daily. The two-story single-family home they’re constructing—scheduled for completion in May—will be the 42nd house built by Edison students. “The kids get a true experience of what it would be like to work in construction. They learn about safety, working together as a team, and communicating,” says Maureen Haynos, another paraeducator in the construction cluster. Once the completed home is sold at fair market value, the profits go to Edison to support its programs.

Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Student Timothy Dillon, 16, a junior at Walter Johnson in Bethesda, works on his coloring book assignment in the print and digital graphic program. In the Level I class, students learn digital tools for the visual arts. The Level II class teaches graphic design fundamentals. Students who get an A or B in the classes and pass a certification exam can receive credit for their work if they attend Montgomery College. Some graduates attend community college; others go on to fine arts schools.

Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Throughout the day, the bus lane is busy with students coming to and leaving Edison, which has two half-day sessions—one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Most days, middle school students on field trips are visiting the Junior Achievement
Finance Park, which is located on the school’s top floor. MCPS has a partnership with Junior Achievement and sends every seventh grader to Edison for a four-hour financial literacy program. While on campus, the students get a preview of the school’s career programs and a tour of the building.

Photo by Laura Chase De Formigny

Principal Shawn Krasa, who came to Edison in 2017, helps coordinate bus departures in the afternoon as students return to their home schools. Krasa has been with MCPS for 19 years, including stints as a technical education teacher at Rockville’s Earle B. Wood Middle School and magnet coordinator at Parkland Magnet Middle School for Aerospace Technology, also in Rockville. Growing up near Erie, Pennsylvania, Krasa learned about construction from his father and grandfathers, and later worked as a carpenter.