Preservation Arts Training Williamsburg High School

Brooklyn, New York, United States


As part of a long term commitment to preservation training in the United States, WMF initiated a high school preservation arts training curriculum, launched as a result of a 1993 workshop for education and preservation practitioners sponsored by WMF. WMF worked with the New Jersey Institute for Technology to develop integrated high school learning modules focused on historic preservation, known as the Preservation Arts Technology curriculum. First implemented at the Brooklyn High School for the Arts, the curriculum found a permanent home at Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design in 2009. Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design is a public college preparatory high school in Brooklyn dedicated to preparing students to be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers regardless of what career path they may take. Exposure to preservation, design, architecture, engineering and related fields enriches the academic experience for students in the school and provides them a greater understanding of the many different professions involved in architecture, construction, urban planning and conservation.

How We Helped

WMF’s preservation high school partner, New Jersey Institute for Technology, works directly with Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design to implement the Preservation Arts Technology curriculum supported by WMF over the past decade. To supplement classroom experience, WMF provides a range of activities aimed at taking students into the field for hands-on training and site-based learning. Through its Preservation in Practice series, WMF brings students together with professionals at engaging preservation project sites throughout New York City. WMF partners with Historic House Trust of New York City to host field schools for students during the academic year, to learn applied skills through workshops at HHT properties. With support from the Department of Education, WHSAD coordinates a summer internship program for students to gain practical experience. WMF hosts interns at its office and encourages other organizations throughout the city to do so as well. During the 2011-12 school year, a field school was held at Morris-Jumel Mansion on Veteran's Day and three Preservation in Practice groups toured historic sites in New York City. Assessments in 2011 and 2012 of public schools ranked WHSAD among the best high schools in New York City.

Why It Matters

Part of WMF’s core mission is to build capacities in the field of preservation and to improve education and training. In the United States, there have been ongoing dialogues about the need to enhance diversity in the profession and revive American conservation crafts. WMF recognized that a systemic effort to introduce preservation theory and practice at the secondary school level was an important step toward achieving these goals. Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design is the only high school in the United States with a four-year comprehensive historic preservation curriculum. By 2014, every grade will be engaged in the preservation program of study. Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design is providing students with an opportunity to use preservation as a vehicle for gaining valuable skills in a variety of fields and internships and field schools allow students to engage in professional activities. The hope is that this enhanced high school curriculum enables students to be well prepared to pursue further academic study and careers. Hopefully, too, graduating seniors will be better equipped to think about the environments in which they live and how to adapt them to the evolving needs of the communities they serve.

Last updated: August 2017.

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