May 12, 2015
Throughout our 30th anniversary year, we are sharing stories of our program participants who have succeeded in the face of adversity with the support made available to them through Living Classrooms’ programs. This month’s story comes from Brian, who participated in our Fresh Start Program:
Brian Mackall, 16, was a freshman in high school when he was involved in some “bad stuff,” he said. He eventually dropped out of high school and was placed in the juvenile system. He enrolled in Living Classrooms’ Fresh Start program. He got his GED and excelled in the program, according to program directors. Brian took advantage of the job fairs and opportunities that Fresh Start provided for him as well as the FIRST Robotics Competition. In 2014, Fresh Start’s Robotics team, Team 4242, ranked #8 in the qualifying rounds at the FIRST Robotics Competition against 50 of the best schools from across the region. Team 4242 was the only “non-traditional” school team competing, and advanced to the quarter finals.
After a summer job with Prince George’s County Government, Living Classrooms asked Brian if he would come back and join the team. He currently helps out with many of our different programs – from assisting our shipboard programs on our vessels to mentoring the current Fresh Start students and helping out at the reception desk. Brian is an essential asset in our administrative office. Brian has also enrolled in automotive training school at night and says that Living Classrooms helped broaden his horizons, showing him different experiences and fields that he may have never discovered.
Fresh Start is a rigorous 40-week job skills training program that serves out-of-school youth, ages 16-19, in Baltimore and Washington, DC. The program uses carpentry as a medium to teach reading, writing, math, history, and science. Students build toolboxes, furniture, and boats and more. They also receive classroom instruction and one-on-one tutoring. The curriculum is designed to increase self-reliance, teach problem solving and academic skills, and demonstrate how academic skills and knowledge are used in a practical work environment. 75% of graduates are employed and/or enrolled in continuing education. https://vimeo.com/125700702