Teacher Feature: Teacher finds a home and career at CCA

Teacher Feature: Teacher finds a home and career at CCA

Four short years after walking out of the doors of Construction Careers Academy (CCA), 2019 graduate Bryan Phinny is back in the classroom. This time as a full-time Construction Trades teacher.

Phinny attended 13 different elementary schools in a variety of states prior to the second grade due to his father moving around as a store manager for Jason’s Deli. He finally landed at Adams Hill Elementary School in second grade, and then attended 6th and 8th grades at Pease Middle School and 7th grade at Vale Middle School. He found a permanent home at CCA. 

“My grandfather worked with his hands and he helped me develop a love of building things,” Phinny said. “After seeing a presentation about the CCA program in middle school and touring the campus, I felt it was the best fit for me.”


Developing lifelong friendships

While at CCA, Phinny found “his people” – fellow students who all had a similar passion and interest and who became a family of sorts. He was able to develop close relationships with some of his peers through the community service hours required at the time. “They aren’t required any more but at the time we had to do 32 hours of community service, and I enjoyed working with my friends so much that we far exceeded the required hours,” he said. Some of the projects he worked on included Habitat for Humanity, building ramps for veterans, and working the many showcases for tiny homes that CCA students built as projects.

To help hone his skills while still attending school, Phinny worked with a local handyman, and then worked as a commercial contractor for four years following graduation. 


Campus is set up for student success

“Students are given lots of opportunities for employment while at school,” CCA Program Coordinator Lesford Dixon said. “There are lots of career and job fairs and always industry representatives around that support the campus. This campus is set up for student success.”

Dixon, who was one of Phinny’s instructors at CCA, said that Phinny would often visit the campus when he was employed in the industry. It was during one of these visits that Dixon suggested that Phinny look into an alternative teaching certification (District permit) program which allows those with industry experience to become teachers.

“Bryan has the personality, the work ethic, and the skill set that we look for at CCA,” Dixon said. “We are really happy to have him on staff this year.”

When asked why he wanted to be a teacher, Phinny credited his former teacher. “I saw how Mr. Dixon taught me and how he formed relationships with all the students and created many opportunities for them. When he called to say that there was a job opening, I was super excited to be able to fill that spot and do the exact same thing.”  

“It also helps that Bryan is somewhat close to the age of his students and has been where they are,” Dixon added. “He knows their lingo and how to engage them on their level. Plus, he knows the program, and now understands his teachers better and what they went through to give him an education.”

“He has literally come full circle and built a home at CCA,” Dixon replied.


Preparing students for lifelong careers

Opening in 2009, the CCA magnet school prepares students for careers in the construction industry. CCA offers an advanced and rigorous curriculum with a focus one of the following areas: construction technology (carpentry, electrical/HVAC, and plumbing/pipefitting/welding), construction management, architectural design, and applied engineering. Students are given a real-world experience to prepare them for a higher education and/or a career in a construction related industry. 

Located on the Warren High School campus, students take all core and elective classes on the Warren campus while maintaining their identity as a CCA student. 

If you are interested in applying to CCA or any NISD magnet school, informational fairs will be held on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11. The online application opens on Nov. 27. Visit the NISD Magnet Schools website for more information.