A Winning Beginning

Students at today’s Dobbins CTE High School enjoy updated facilities and professional certification programs in food, fashion and even Media & Music production.   

North Philly’s Murrell Dobbins Public High School was founded in 1937 as a “Vocational” school; today, this curriculum has been updated to “CTE”: Career & Technical Education. In addition to an academic curriculum, students participate in one of twelve professional programs including culinary arts, fashion design, biotechnology, commercial art, and other in-demand industries where hands-on training is required for mastery.

Along with it’s new name and educational options, Dobbins also received an “extreme makeover” in 2019 — $39 million for new classrooms, labs, equipment, and more. Today, every CTE track has its own space, customized to its specific needs.

“Each program is a school within a school, a family,” said Indrayudh Shome, who heads Dobbins’s Media & Music Production program, which includes all different platforms from podcasts to video editing, to music and web design.

“I have my students every day, for at least 90 minutes a day, for three years,” he said, noting that this bond is key to earning trust and reinforcing positive connections for the best possible outcomes. “The idea is to nurture these young folks into professionals I would not only want to hire but leaders I would want to work for.”

Indy taps into his extensive background in performing and managing bands to teach the basics, and he also leans into his industry networks to find his students as much real-life experience as possible. “There’s a new era coming up right now,” he told us, and Dobbins is uniquely poised to nurture the city’s next generation of entrepreneurs and originators with social, economic, and environmental solutions for a better world.

“I see Dobbins students taking their learning beyond this building,” said Indy, who envisions them fixing houses, growing food, creating sustainable businesses: essentially “showing the world how urban regeneration is done.” As a teacher/mentor, Indy provides support and guidance but also trusts his students to develop their own projects that no grown-up would’ve thought to imagine.

Case in point: Indy’s after-school leadership club, Future Visions (aka TSTL), which has taken on a remarkable life of its own. Students decided to create a documentary film investigating the root causes and interconnections of two of the most impactful social issues of our time: gun violence and environmental crisis. They planned their project to include interviews with city leaders, which they shared with peers and neighbors for discussion and analysis.

Soon, a theme emerged: urban agriculture – a nexus where violence and environment came together, along with other issues like food insecurity, chronic illness, and pollution. Students decided to start a community garden on school grounds that could grow fresh food and also many ingredients that could be shared with various CTE programs.

The Future Visions crew poses with Mr. Shome (L), co-facilitator Kelly Vranich (R), and Justina Thompson (seated) of Life Do Grow Farm

For instance, many of the herbs that Culinary Arts might use to create tea blends and flavor concoctions can also go into salt scrubs, soaps and other natural products that the Cosmetology program students are interested in developing. Biotechnology skills can develop hydroponic and composting systems, Graphic Arts can design packaging and signage. Digital Media can document various aspects, which could be produced as instructional videos that other schools could replicate.

Mind. Blown.

“Media Creators are the architects of our future,” Indy told us. Never before in history have teenagers had this kind of freedom to tell their own stories, or to participate in conversations that will shape their futures. “I tell my students, in your pocket you have a loudspeaker that can reach a billion people… if you know how to use it.”

Learn More! Click the source links here for additional information. 🗣️🎤 Shout out to Revive Media’s POC for sharing her interview with Indy (and for her continued support of Dobbins students) ❤️🖤

The Future Visions Lab @ Dobbins is a paid program for high school teens to develop Leadership, Critical Thinking and Media Skills while creating real world Sustainability and Community Projects. Care to collaborate? Email IndyShome@gmail.com

Murrell Dobbins CTE H.S.
2150 W. Lehigh Ave
North Philadelphia 19132
Serving students city-wide

Dobbins school is an impressive eight-story building in the Art Deco/Moderne-style, brick with stone and terra-cotta trimmings, plus lots of period flair (especially Egyptian details). The mammoth structure was designed by public school architect Irwin T. Catharine who also designed the Bok Building — the two are practically replicas. Dobbins was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Known as the home of the Mustangs, the school’s colors are flame and steel; current attendance is about 1,100 students. 🤓

Famous Former Mustangs:

Hank Gathers, (1967 – 1990) College Basketball Player
Gregory “Bo” Kimble, NBA player.
Dawn Staley, Head Coach of Women’s Basketball at University of South Carolina, 3-Time Olympian
Doug Overton, Retired professional basketball player and current head coach of the Springfield Armor of the NBA Development League.
Jami M. Valentine, Ph.D., Physicist, first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Physics from Johns Hopkins University Dobbins class of 1992.
Joyce Craig-Lewis, first female Philadelphia firefighter to die in the line of duty
Bobby Eli, Philly Soul guitarist, songwriter, producer, arranger and founding member of MFSB.
Benjamin Britt, surrealist painter
Dobbins Staff (2019 – 2020), youtube celebrities

About Revive Local 25 Articles
REVIVE Local's byline reflects content created collaboratively via Local writers/editors with Revive reporting/interviewing.

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