BTHS’s Dragon Depot Teaches Real Life Skills In The Classroom

The Dragon Depot classroom at BTHS was made possible through a $10,000 grant from the OceanFirst Foundation. (Photo courtesy Brick Township High School)

BRICK – What on earth is a Dragon Depot? Mayor John Ducey and representatives from the OceanFirst Foundation, which provided a $10,000 grant to build the Structured Learning Environment for students to develop workplace skills, recently attended a ribbon cutting ceremony unveiling the new classroom at Brick Township High School.

The space was previously a self-contained special education classroom but was transformed into a place for students to learn vocational and workplace skills. (Photo courtesy Brick Township High School)

The space, which was previously a self-contained special education classroom, was transformed in part by Governor Christie’s 2012 bill making New Jersey a “Work First State,” which means that all residents should be working despite their aptitude or ability. Educators used this mentality to develop the “Dragon Depot Dream” and ensure students were prepared for the real world vocationally as well as academically.

Stations are set up around the Dragon Depot that allow students to sample vocational tasks that bring to life the 16 New Jersey Department of Education Career Clusters. Those clusters include fields like manufacturing, hospitality & tourism, finance, architecture & construction, health science, marketing, transportation, and information technology.

Students will get to participate in hands-on activities and learn organizational skills that are critical to success in life after graduation. They will learn how to run a business, such as opening a fully self-sustaining gift shop stocked with jewelry, soap, candles, balloons and chocolates made by the students themselves. Both staff and students will intermingle with special education students at the school, providing exposure to real-world situations.

“As the old saying goes, ‘It takes a village,’ and that is exactly what was exemplified by everyone who helped to make this dream come to fruition,” said Darla Novick, who worked on the grant proposal along with educators Sherri Ryan, Tiffany Aguayo and BTHS Principal William Kleissler.

“We are honored and proud to have such dedicated, innovative, supportive educators throughout our district,” added Acting Superintendent Dennis Filippone.