Tiny House is SOLD and will fund future Project-Based Learning Projects in the DCSD

The Alternative Learning Center Tiny House project was created to give ALC students hands-on experience and opportunities to interact with businesses that specialize in skilled trades. This project-based learning initiative incorporated research, design and construction, with a focus on environmentally sustainable development. Community members invested funding, time, and materials to help our students achieve a product that was marketable and will help fund future learning projects in Dubuque Community School District.

The Tiny House was sold to Dillon and Katie Smith. “We are impressed by the product the students created and look forward to completing the Tiny House,” Dillon Smith said. “We are going to enjoy the Tiny House for years to come!” Mr. and Mrs. Smith will complete the interior and will share images of the final project with the Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools and the students who worked on the project.

The Tiny House project started with a shared vision of providing education in skilled trades by creating and completing a project. Conlon Construction Company and Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom provided the funding to get the project started.

The City of Dubuque’s Sustainable Dubuque Community Grant and Dubuque Racing Association provided grant funding for the project.

The ALC students spent weeks working with local experts to plan the project. Christy Monk and Emily Sewell, both from FEH Design worked with students, spending project planning time to design and articulate the Tiny House project. Bryan Blair, structural engineer from FEH Design led ALC students through the structural design of their project. Then, Rod Schumacher, project manager at Conlon Construction provided guidance to the ALC students for estimating and scheduling the project. 

“The Tiny House Project presented lots of opportunity for ALC students to work with many experts throughout our community,” Amy Unmacht, Executive Director, Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools said. “This is a best-case scenario for students as they consider learning skilled trades and joining the workforce.”

Then, it was time to start building the Tiny House. Mozena Construction Company’s Joel Mozena assisted students in measurement and framing techniques. Mechanical engineering support was provided by MEP Engineer’s Dieter Muhlack, Westphal Electric’s Ron Thielen, and Doug Gauer of Couler Valley R.V.. Then, Westphal Electrical Contractors provided professional support from Jason Cluff who instructed students on the rough-in/wiring of the tiny house.  Giese Architectural Roofing - Dan Leibfried supported the tiny house with personnel for instruction of installing a standing seam roof. The project team was committed to sustainable building so, Tod Hollenback of Eagle Point Solar helped sizing and aiding in education and development of the solar array. Fred Mumm aided students with the solar panel installation.

“While students had the benefit of learning from local experts, Dubuque Community School District staff Chris Theis and Josh Vondal helped oversee and assist with the educational project along with Joe Bormann, lead instructor. The curriculum was based on best practices in other districts,” Unmacht said. “The combined effort and support presented students relevant educational outcomes. Plus, the money raised from the sale of the Tiny House will make similar projects feasible in the future.”  The entire Alternative Learning Center community got behind the Tiny House Project. Southeast Polk School District’s Ryan Andersen offered curricular support and the University of Northern Iowa’s Dr. Scott Greenhalgh contributed to curricular and experience support. Dubuque Home Builders & Associates offered field trips, Core opportunities, and field expertise.

The Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools would like to recognize the following businesses for their time, talent, and materials they contributed to the project: Westphal & Co. Electrical Contractors, Van Meter Inc., Spahn & Rose. JPK Woodworks, Giese Architectural Roofing, Giese Sheet Metal, Portzen Construction (Dubuque Plumbing and Heating), Izzy and Brenton Clark, Home+Floor Show, Conlon Construction. Vanguard, Inc, and Big River Sign Company.                               

Thank you to everyone who took an interest in the Tiny House Project, without your support this project would not have been such a success!

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Jeff Danna
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The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque envisions a vibrant and inclusive Dubuque region where everyone can thrive. Since 2002, we have inspired people to give back to their community, and we turn this generosity into lasting change across our region, increasing access to resources and opportunities that help all people succeed. 

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