New Masonic Philanthropic Gift Is Revving Up Technical Education

A new gift from the masons is helping kids go under the hood with new CCTE classes in growing fields.

By Ian A. Stewart

As Grand Master Randy Brill spoke this October to the crowd of teachers, school administrators, and students gathered to celebrate a major new gift from the Masons of California to the San Diego Unified School District, all eyes kept turning to the giant blue and yellow rocketship parked just behind him.

Well, not a rocketship, exactly. “Little Giant,” as the vessel is known, is the current electric land-speed record holder, at 353 mph. Working through a novel automotive technology program at Madison High School, more than 100 students have been busy rebuilding the behemoth, which is powered by more than 1,100 prismatic lithium-ion batteries.

The race car was a fitting visual reminder that this isn’t your grandpa’s shop class. Thanks to the district’s College, Career, and Technical Education program, students at Madison High can get hands-on training in automotive, mechanical, and building trades, including cutting-edge and emerging fields like electric vehicle repair.

And now they’ll be able to bring even more of that career-readiness programming to students throughout the region. The California Masonic Foundation in September pledged $390,000 over three years to the district to expand its CCTE program. That includes launching a five-week Saturday program focused on automotive systems, diagnostics, and repairs, as well as a five-week summer course. The grant will also help fund additional staffing for the program.

The curriculum is intended to show students that there’s more than one path to a well-paid career, says California Masonic Foundation president Doug Ismail. “Many people still have the antiquated view that the only way to have a successful career is through a four-year-college program,” Ismail says “Having access to CCTE programs enables students stable, living wage outside of a four-year program.”

According to local projections, San Diego County expects 190,000 job openings in the construction and automotive trades through 2030.

Photograph by:
Mathew Scott

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