Union works with students to build a home

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Union members and students will be working side by side to renovate a historic home in Wallingford, Conn., this fall. The building, a major rehabilitation of a home built in 1841, will eventually house the offices of the AFT-affiliated State Vocational Federation of Teachers. Meanwhile, it will be a learning site for students from the Connecticut Technical High School System.

As many as six different schools and dozens of vocational education students will be involved in the renovation, doing carpentry and installing electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems. Architectural design students have already helped take measurements for the redesign, under the direction of an architecture instructor.

In vocational education, "the goal is to get the kids out in the field as often as possible," says Greg Beyer, SVFT vice president. Beyer joined other union officers and volunteers for several days this summer to demolish the interior of the building. "For a librarian, it was quite a learning experience," says Beyer, referring to his professional training as an educator.

The do-it-yourself approach to renovating the union's new offices is designed to save member money as well as bring the community together on a project that will ultimately serve students in more ways than one.

To follow the progress on the Wallingford house, go to www.facebook.com/SVFTLocal4200A?ref=hl#.