Chicago school unveils classrooms of the future to prepare students for next-generation jobs

A cutting-edge initiative at a school on Chicago’s West Side is proving to be a game-changer for students after implementing two new labs where the possibilities to create are endless.

In a special report on Fox 32, Natalie Bomke highlights how Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School in Austin is energizing children for the future.

“Imagine, 20 years ago, how many of us would talk about casual trips into space, now it’s an everyday conversation and it starts in places like this,” said Elbert Muhammad, professor of physics and science at Christ the King Jesuit College Prep. .

In one of Chicago’s most impoverished neighborhoods stands a beacon of hope: encouraging students in the STEM field with a hands-on approach, from virtual reality and video games to the tools of the future.

“Just being able to design something and see it done in front of you is one of the most amazing things,” said Kaylin Hood, a senior at Christ the King.

Cristo Rey not only prepares students for the future, but enables them to build it.

“When you present something like this to them, the energy increases and that’s what it’s all about. We keep them energized, they’ll set the world on fire,” Muhammad said.

The school introduces two new classrooms of the future: an Innovation Center and a Maker Lab.

“We can expose them to robotics, coding, we have the sound studio there as well. It gives them the skills, development and training that will help prepare them for college and future careers,” Clem said. Martin, president of Christ the King.

“My favorite thing to do is right here in the music studio,” said Taurean Washington, a senior at Christ the King.

Taurean and Kaylin are interested in STEM, or the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.\

“We are dealing with a generation, one of the first generations that has the entire information base in the palm of their hand. You have to find them where they are,” Muhammad said.

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“I had the idea that I wanted to be a software engineer. I knew it was something that might interest me,” Taurean said. “But now you have a space where you can go in and work with technology and be hands-on, especially knowing that I’m a hands-on learner.”

In addition to giving children hands-on experience, the school also puts them to work. Corporate partners pay the student’s tuition in exchange for a weekly internship.

“It also helps them differentiate between what is a job and what is a career,” Martin said.

Increasingly, the school has learned that those careers demand a new type of skill set. They hope to instill and inspire that in Christ the King.

“It makes us feel loved and that our school really cares about us and they don’t do it to ensure their future. They do it for our future,” Kaylin said.

For a decade, 100% of Christ the King students have been accepted to colleges and universities upon graduation. Many continue to give back by advising and offering scholarship opportunities to students.