Help support design in public education by voting for Project H‘s high school program, Studio H! The humanitarian design firm has taken on an ambitious project in the poorest county in North Carolina: a design/build curriculum in the public high school. Taught by Project H’s founder and project manager, Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller, the one-year program is offered to high school juniors in Bertie County, and over the course of two semesters and a summer term, students learn design thinking, develop hands-on shop class skills, earn college credit, and put this all to work on a big architectural community project. Next summer, the students will build a farmer’s market for the town of Windsor, and have already completed some beautiful public chicken coops. Studio H is up for a $10,000 grant from Sambazon’s “Warriors of Change” program, and needs your votes (just 2 clicks via Facebook) to help fund their summer build. Voting ends Friday, January 21.
Studio H is an extension of Project H’s work at the intersection of design and public education. “We had been working in Bertie County for a year and a half already for a variety of other education initiatives: the Learning Landscape, computer labs, and more. We discovered quickly that design as consulting only goes so far within public education. So we became high school teachers,” says Project H founder Emily Pilloton.
The Studio H program’s mantra is “Design. Build. Transform.” – the words are printed in huge block font on a billboard along the state route coming into the county. The three words exemplify Studio H’s pedagogy: one part design thinking, one part industry-relevant building skills, one part citizenship. For the students, it means learning how to creatively solve problems, but also learning how to weld and build and prototype, so that upon graduation, they are better equipped for college OR to get a job locally.
Similar to Sam Mockbee’s Rural Studio in Hale County, Alabama, Studio H uses the design/build approach to more seamlessly integrate conceptualization and execution. “Often designers don’t know how to build, and builders don’t know how to design. But if you can teach both as complementary rather than ‘this, then that,’ you’re educating more creative thinkers.” Within Bertie County, Studio H and its projects have become something of a beacon for progress in a place that is racially divided, below the poverty line, and in many way stuck in the past.
You can check out Studio H’s work from Fall semester on their website, which also includes open-source lesson plans from the class.