Rocking-horse project helps students hone job skills, give to community


Terry Stotts’ students at Dallas ISD’s Multiple Careers Magnet Center leave his class with much more than woodworking skills.

“It’s more than subject matter,” Stotts said. “It’s how to have fun. You can’t learn if you’re not having fun.” With more than 30 years of teaching experience – the last 12 at Multiple Careers – it’s obvious he practices what he teaches in his Construction Technology classes.

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, Stotts and his students delivered colorful wooden rocking horses they built to the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas, something they have done the past five years before Christmas.

Building the rocking horses provide job skills for the students.

Amy Hatfield of Ronald McDonald House said the rocking horses are put up for sale in the organization’s holiday shop, where parents with children staying there can shop for gifts.

“It’s great for them to be out here and giving back to the community,” said Principal Lynn Smith. “It also gives them job skills, because the point is to – hopefully – find them jobs.”

For nearly 50 years, the Multiple Careers Magnet Center has been helping special-needs high school students learn life and job skills to help them find gainful employment and independence. There are currently six career clusters at the school: Building Maintenance Technology; Business Technology; Construction Technology; Culinary Arts; Hospitality & Tourism; and Dry Cleaning and Laundry. The school is in the Carter High School feeder pattern, but teaches students from across the district.

The past three years, Stotts has been awarded an Innovative Teaching Grant from the Junior League of Dallas. The funding covers the cost of materials. Students provide all the labor, from cutting out the pieces, finishing and painting them and then assembling the rocking horses.

“It’s obviously innovative,” said Mary Skinner of the Junior League. “They are learning much more than the regular academics. This gives them life skills.”


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