Chicago school debuts classrooms of the future to prepare students for next-gen jobs

A cutting edge initiative at a school on Chicago's West Side is proving to be a game changer for students after rolling out two new labs where the possibilities to create are endless.

In a Fox 32 special report, Natalie Bomke highlights how Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School in Austin is getting kids energized for the future.

"Just imagine, 20 years ago, how many of us were talking about casual trips to space, now it's an everyday conversation and it starts in places like this," said Elbert Muhammad, a physics and science teacher at Christ the King Jesuit College Prep.

In one of Chicago's most impoverished neighborhoods lies a beacon of hope - getting students energized about the STEM field with a hands-on approach, from virtual reality and video games to the tools of the future.

"Just being able to design something and see it actually being made in front of you is one of the most amazing things," said Kaylin Hood, a senior at Christ the King.

Christ the King is not only preparing students for the future, it's letting them build it.

"When you introduce them to something like this, the energy is up and that's what it's all about. We keep them energized, they'll go set the world on fire," Muhammad said.

The school is debuting two new classrooms of the future - an Innovation Center and a Maker Lab.

"We're able to expose them to robotics, coding, we have the sound studio over there as well. It provides them with the skills, development and training that'll help prepare them for college and careers down the road," said Clem Martin, president of Christ the King.

"My favorite activity is right here, in the music studio," said Taurean Washington, a senior at Christ the King.

Taurean and Kaylin are both interested in STEM - or science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.\

"We're dealing with a generation, one of the first generations that has the entire information base in the palm of their hand. You have to meet them where they are," Muhammad said.


"I had the idea that I wanted to be a software engineer. I knew that it was something that I might be interested in," Taurean said. "But now you have a space where you can go in and actually work with technology and be hands-on especially knowing that I’m a hands-on learner."

In addition to giving kids a hands-on experience, the school also puts them on the job. Corporate partners pay student's tuition in exchange for a weekly internship.

"It also kind of helps them differentiate between what's a job and what's a career," Martin said.

More and more, the school has learned those careers demand a new type of skill set. They hope to instill and inspire that at Christ the King.

"It makes us feel loved and that our school, they really care about us and they're not doing it to secure they're future. They're doing it for our future," Kaylin said.

For a decade, 100% of Christ the King students have been accepted to colleges and universities upon graduation. Many continue to give back by mentoring and offering scholarship opportunities to students.