A brand-new home for sale in Annandale has a unique back story: It was built by youths with special needs who attend an alternative school run by Phillips Programs for Children and Families.
The light green house at 6436 Holyoke Drive has four bedrooms, three and a-half bathrooms, two gas fireplaces, marble counter tops in the kitchen, hardwood floors on the first level, and two small decks. It’s listed by Long & Foster realtor Debbie Dogrul for $599,888.
“Our students have significant social, emotional, and/or behavioral support needs,” says Piper Phillips, president and CEO of the Phillips Programs. Many have multiple challenges, such as trauma in their lives, mental health issues, behavioral issues, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, or intellectual disabilities.
The students who worked on the house are in Phillips’ Building Futures program at the Annandale campus on Backlick Road.
Building Futures is all about career preparation, to give students an authentic work experience while they learn building trades, such as construction, landscaping, and plumbing, Phillips says.
The primary goal, however, she says, is to teach students “soft job skills, such as showing up on time, taking responsibility, and being part of a team – so they will be able to get a job after they graduate.”
Building Futures is aimed at “re-engaging students who have given up on school,” Phillips says. “Many had failed at their previous schools, but find they can succeed in this program. They take great pride in the house they’re building. And that motivates them to finish high school.” One graduate of the Building Futures program started a home repair business with his father.
About a couple dozen students, age 16-22, worked on the house over more than three years. Students spent half the day in academic classes, and the other half at the building site. Most of them have learning or behavioral challenges. The Phillips Programs hired subcontractors for some jobs, such as digging the foundation and electrical work.
The Phillips Programs will use the proceeds from the sale of the house to buy a property for another house-building project.
The Phillips Programs are an outgrowth of the School for Contemporary Education founded by Piper Phillips’ father, Lakin Phillips, in 1967, before the federal law was enacted requiring public schools to educate students with disabilities. Currently, public school systems refer students to Phillips programs when they can’t provide the services the students need.
In addition to the Annandale campus, the Phillips Programs operates schools in Leesburg and Laurel, Md., and a new one that opened earlier this year in Fairfax. Phillips Programs also offers home-based counseling services, behavior analysis therapy, and outpatient therapy.