Second North Surry Habitat Home build more exciting than first

David Broyles Staff Reporter

September 17, 2013

The second time around with a Habitat for Humanity home build at North Surry High School was more exciting than the first for many on hand Monday at the project’s official kickoff ceremony.

“In my opinion, today is more exciting. We’ve seen it from start to finish,” said Greater Mount Airy Area Habitat Interim Executive Director Neil Cothren. “There is none of the apprehension we had the first time and we have seen the impact of the learning opportunities for the kids and for the families this helps. It’s exciting to see the process begin again.”

Habitat Construction Manager Greg Russo said the house, which was under its third day of construction Monday, will be a 1,144-square-foot home with three bedrooms and one bath. The number of bathrooms could change as the project better knows the needs of the family to be served. A total of 20 students were working on the project Monday, with numbers evenly split between students from North Surry, East Surry and Surry Central and Surry Community College.

“I think it’s wonderful the high school kids can get a head start before they enter the workforce with this program,” Cothren said.”

Surry County Schools board members Sue Stone and Brian Moser attended the ceremony along with Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves, North Surry Principal Neil Atkins, Assistant Superintendents Dr. Terri Mosley and Charles Graham and North Surry English teacher Myra Combs.

Habitat for Humanity board members attending the kickoff included Chairman David Hayes, and board members Bryant Brantley, Kevin Minix, Habitat Financial Officer Sheree Russo and Administrative Assistant Alice Burgess. Surry Community College building technology instructor Michael Wall and Michael Miller, dean of Business Technologies and Health Sciences, also were on hand.

“One thing new this year about the English curriculum I teach is it’s technical English, and is taught to students in a variety of technical trades such as welding, and auto mechanics. It’s not just building technology,” said teacher Myra Combs. “Since it is taught online (to allow students to work on site during school hours), it is a type of hybrid class. One student is doing this as his senior project, and students participating have the option of presenting this in a group as part of their senior service project as well.”

Combs said she also had been pleased that students in this program tested as well as students in the more traditional English curriculum.

“I just couldn’t be more proud,” said Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Jill Reinhardt. “This effort is another way we are able to personalize education for our students. They are also earning college credit towards a construction management technology certificate while giving back to and serving the community through Habitat.”

Reeves complemented the students who stood nearby in orange Habitat T-shirts.

“Students, I want to thank you for what you’re doing. One thing we want to do is make learning relevant,” said Reeves. “We need to apply learning to a real world situation. This project is a good example of that. This is not an easy process bureaucratically. Because everyone involved wants to make this happen it has. It takes a lot of people at the same time to work together. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.”

Sue Stone told the students she was excited about the program and what it would mean for their futures. Principal Atkins praised the partnerships between Habitat, Surry Community College and the county school system and said they couldn’t “be prouder to have this on our campus.”

Dean Miller concurred and said the hands-on experience given to students was something they couldn’t learn sitting in a classroom out of a textbook.

Reinhardt also spoke about how the skills learned in the program were interdisciplinary and could be applied to whatever the students chose. She said the program is focused on technical skills they would need no matter what career they choose.

Reach David Broyles at or 719-1952.