Instead of reading a math textbook, Geometry in Construction students at Ishpeming High School worked to refurbish a house. The course inspired a program called Hematites Building Better Neighborhoods, which formally dedicated the Geometry in Construction class to fighting blight in Ishpeming.
The premise behind Geometry in Construction program is that students benefit from hands-on, experiential learning.
The students that have struggled with math in the past do exceedingly well when they get through geometry in construction and at the end of the years, they test just as high as the students that had previously done well in earlier math classes.
Ishpeming High School's first house is being remodeled with a $50,000 grant from the Cliffs Natural Resources/Eagle Mine Marquette County Community Fund. When it's done, the Marquette County Land Bank Authority will sell the house and use the proceeds to renovate another house.
Westwood High School also teaches Geometry in Construction, and they're building a house from scratch in West Ishpeming.
Snyder toured both houses. He said exposing high school students to the trades was critical for the U.P.'s economy. Due to its aging workforce, the U.P. may develop a skills deficit unless more young people go into skilled trades. He said those skills were more in demand than ever as the U.P. sees more economic development.
"There are different economic opportunities up here in terms of ways to grow," Snyder said. "I just came from Munising. If you looked at what's going on with the tourism, they're building hotels, different places to stay. You're seeing that in Marquette. I hope to see this area continue to grow in terms of new opportunities for tourism and growth there. That's construction."
Snyder is already taking steps to promote Career and Technical Education. He created the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance in June to strengthen and expand CTE throughout the state.
"I don't think you could find a governor anywhere in the United States who's been more supportive of Career and Technical Education than Gov. Snyder," said Brian Sarvello, director of the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency's CTE programs.