MiEN Helps Jasper County Schools Design & Outfit its New CATE Facility
- 5th January 2021
- Anthony Bowie
A believer in the value of hands-on educational experiences, Jasper County Schools has had a career & technology education center (CATE) near the top of its to-do list for several years. With 2,700 students and six schools, the district realized that goal in 2020 when it opened the doors to its new facility.
“We wanted to add a CATE facility to make our high school a more comprehensive model,” said
Dr. Rechel Anderson, Superintendent, “so that our students wouldn’t have to travel a great distance, and to give them more opportunities right at their very own high school.”
Students previously took all of their CTE classes at the Beaufort-Jasper ACE facility, another career facility that the district shares with Beaufort County. There, the program availability is limited by the building’s physical space, said Dr. Anderson, who joined the district in 2018.
“In order to expand the opportunities for our students,” she added, “the board decided that it would be advantageous to offer some of those courses—and not duplicate any of them, unless they were in high demand—at our high school.”
Building a state-of-the-art CATE facility from scratch is a daunting endeavor that requires consistent planning, stakeholder support, community involvement (from parents, teachers, and members of the community), and good design. “You need individuals who truly understand the process of developing a facility to serve not only as an educational entity,” said Dr. Anderson, “but to also be built with quality.”
To achieve that goal, the district carefully selected builders that had positive reputations and could also stay within budget while offering a quality product. It used the same care when selecting MiEN as a furniture partner, knowing that it would stay within budget while both sharing and verbalizing the district’s broader vision.
“We needed someone who shared our quality focus when helping us select furniture and colors. We wanted to develop a level of trust with them,” said Dr. Anderson, who characterizes Jasper County Schools’ relationship with MiEN as one that was built on good collaboration, trust, and accountability.
“MiEN was accessible and customer-service driven, providing answers to any question that we had,” said Dr. Anderson. “They were readily available to provide the answers. Their level of expertise and love for what they do were obvious.”
For its new CATE facility, Jasper County Schools selected comfortable, collaborative furniture that was built on coasters and moveable. The district also installed chairs, tables, shelving, charging stations, and other elements that converge to create an inviting, engaging environment for students as they prepare for their future careers.
“We wanted individuals to walk in and be wowed,” said Dr. Anderson. “Working with MiEN, we came up with a color scheme, quality furniture designs, and an overall space that helps students feel like they’re ready for the work world.”
Now, those students don’t even have to leave their high school campus, which effectively serves as a one-stop educational shop. “We’re here to provide a well-rounded experience and instill a sense of pride in our students,” said Dr. Anderson. “Our CATE facility has opened their eyes to the number of opportunities that are waiting for them when they graduate from high school.”
Calling the new CATE facility a “model for continuous learning,” Dr. Anderson expects it to serve as a cornerstone for district high school students who are interested in exploring their career options at an early age. Today’s kindergartners, for example, will need skills that aren’t even being taught in traditional curriculums today.
“Our society is ever-changing,” said Dr. Anderson, “and we’re building a foundation for those kindergartners who in 10 years will be able to learn in this flexible, modern CATE facility that’s durable enough to stand the test of time.”