Stockton, CA / Jacqueline Ratto
Special to Bilingual Weekly
On January 12, San Joaquin County Office of Education proudly presented a brand new charter school to the community: San Joaquin Building Futures Academy, during its open house and Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony.
SJBFA is a high school dropout recovery program for young adults, ages 17-24, which focuses on non-traditional approaches to education combined with hands-on construction training. The school provides second chances to students to complete their high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) and give them the opportunity to apprentice within the construction industry.
“You can see we are under construction,” Founts said. “But when you observe the work the students have already done, the program is definitely open for business.”
All the certificates it received during the event recognized the hard work of San Joaquin Building Futures Academy.
The students did their part in impressing the crowd, which included elected officials, members of the construction industry, parents, and San Joaquin County Office of Education employees, with guided tours leading guests to different demonstrations ranging from masonry to design.
Sheilah Goulart, “the driving force of YouthBuild and SJBFA,” according to Assistant Superintendent James Mousalimas first learned about YouthBuild at a conference at Yuba County Office of Education. Inspired by the concept, Goulart began applying for grants and over the course of five years watched the program evolved from 20 students in a community center to 90 students in a 17,000 square foot facility.
“The ability to provide for the youth is really key,” Goulart said. She plans to extend these services to even more students. “We plan to open a school in Thornton to offer more apprenticeship opportunities beyond construction and labor.”
Teacher Lucas Homdus has also seen great improvements in the program. “As a staff, we’re more cohesive. The students seem much more eager to learn and ready to succeed. As they start to see success, they’re more encouraged.”
SJBFA is more than just a place to learn construction. Linda Lopez, a student of SJBFA, values more than just the training she receives. “It’s been a good experience learning self-discipline and teamwork,” she said. “It’s also been a good experience helping others get back on their feet. This is the last chance for a lot of people.”
Councilmember Susan Eggman believes in the importance of these second chances. “Just because our beginnings aren’t strong, doesn’t mean we can’t finish strong.”
Homdus believes in pushing these students toward that goal. “I’d like to see us move forward, continue to hold these high standards, and continue to build.”
About San Joaquin Building Futures Academy
San Joaquin Building Futures Academy, chartered by San Joaquin County Office of Education, combines a non-traditional approach to education with hands-on construction training for young adults in need of a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED). In addition, it develops a qualified workforce by providing students with work experience and instilling leadership skills. For more information about San Joaquin Building Futures Academy, visit http://www.sjcoe.org/sjbfa.