This school year, BUILD NYC has expanded its reach with the addition of a new school partner, DeWitt Clinton High School located in the Kingbridge neighborhood in the Bronx. Katie Gilbert, a former teacher at BUILD’s longstanding school partner, High School of World Cultures, helped bring BUILD to DeWitt Clinton where she currently teaches. Katie explains, “I was at World Cultures during BUILD’s inaugural year there, six years ago. [I was a partner teacher] with Ms. Morales who taught BUILD [and still does]. I saw the BUILD program grow at World Cultures and how much students and teachers loved it.” When she started at DeWitt three years ago in the Math Department, Katie thought “we should have financial education; we should have BUILD.” Gilbert started talking to her fellow teacher and then principal to ultimately bring BUILD to DeWitt Clinton High School.
DeWitt Clinton High School is a large high school serving close to 1,000 students. Approximately 84% of DeWitt students are Black or LatinX and 86% are from low-income households who qualify for free or reduced lunch. DeWitt offers a number of different learning pathways and Career and Technical Education (CTE) tracks to prepare students for future careers. As Katie explains, “At Clinton, we seek to not only prepare students for college but ensure they graduate with a specific career in mind.” BUILD helps support this goal by helping introduce students to various career options while also helping show the connection between school and the real-world. As Katie states, “BUILD allows teachers to point out skills that are transferable to certain careers and help students make the connections between what they are good at and different fields. This is an eye-opening experience for most of my ninth-graders who don’t really know what they want to do in the future. Students understand that the skills they learn through BUILD are not just for school, but for real-world opportunities outside of the classroom. BUILD also helps teachers connect with students and embed soft skills development directly into their curriculum.”
Ultimately, Katie would love to see BUILD and entrepreneurship as another pathway for DeWitt Clinton students. Right now, as she teaches her first BUILD class, she is excited to see what her students will achieve. “They are full of ideas, which is exciting. Every day they are coming up with new ideas, and I have to remind them that we are not at the idea phase yet, write it down and we will get there! I am excited for Clinton to see BUILD in action since this is the first year of the program at the school. I am also excited for teachers to see what BUILD is and what it can bring to our school. Hopefully, they will catch the vision as well and it won’t just be a couple of teachers that do this but a lot of teachers who see the benefit of it and want to be involved.”