Tiny Houses big hit at Ky. League of Cities conference


Attendees at the Kentucky League of Cities annual conference in Louisville last week learned about the nine Tiny Houses designed and built by high school students in the eastern Kentucky this past year. The houses generated a tremendous amount of interest and were auctioned in the summer. Appalachian-built tiny homes are now located coast to coast throughout the nation.

The one of a kind Building it Forward project, created by the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, is an investment in creating a ‘future story’ for students interested in learning skills for a real-world vocation. The project is designed to be on-going and sustainable each year. The completed homes are auctioned and the proceeds re-invested by the schools to complete a new Tiny House each year.

Dr. Dessie Bowling, KVEC associate director, explained that the project had unintended positive outcomes beyond students learning trade skills; students learned how to be productive team members, they learned communication skills, problems-solving and higher attendance rates in the Area Technology Center classes. 

She added that the project enhanced the students’ confidence in their skills and learning. One student told her that “just as our athletes have swag as they walk down the halls because of their athletic achievements, we now have swag because we’ve built a tiny house.”  Another two students are making plans to start their own company.

One house is now located in Pismo Beach, California, one in Pennsylvania and two others in Maryland.   The Harlan County Fiscal Court bought three to be used for housing for persons in recovery at their Hope addiction treatment center. They will be used for transitional housing.

Two Lee County students and instructors from Knott, Lee and Pike County shared their work with the large crowd. 

All the purchases exceeded the minimum bid allowing the funds to go back to build more houses this school year.  Six houses are being designed and built for auction again next early summer.  The houses will be bid on KVEC’s digital platform  Information about the project can be found on the site.

The goal for this project is for teaching and learning to be fun and applicable to post-secondary success; where students are engaged in the learning and can apply the learning to life and success in high school and beyond.  Research has shown that students who participate in hands-on learning remember the material better, feel a sense of accomplishment when the task is completed, and are able to transfer that experience easier to other learning situations.  The students gain skills in carpentry, electricity, HVAC, design and build cost analysis, teamwork, marketing and communication.

“This is also an economic development project showing that education can be a lever to stimulate the economy,” Bowling said.

For additional information contact: Dr. Dessie Bowling, KVEC Associate Director

Ron Daley is the strategic partner lead for KVEC, a consortia of 22 school districts.




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