Professional Architect Joins Dallas ISD Career Institute To Help Build Futures
October 8, 2020
She is a first year educator and the lead instructor on the Principles of Architecture course at the new Career Institute East.
After completing his Masters in Architecture from Texas A&M University in 2004, Toffer joined Corgan – a leading architecture and design firm based in Dallas. She was eventually promoted to Senior Project Manager, where she fully oversaw projects from the first sketches to construction.
Toffer always felt the need to share her knowledge and experiences with the younger generations. She began volunteering for the Dallas ISD High Schools, visiting as a visiting professor, and mentoring teenagers who expressed an interest in architecture.
“I saw a need in Dallas to enable different groups of the population to study architecture, engineering and interior design,” she said. “I realized very early on that we can only achieve this effect if we get in touch with the students at an early stage and make them aware that these opportunities exist for them in all of these careers.”
The teacher’s commitment to students in Dallas goes beyond lectures. Toffer and design teacher Peter Goldstein are the founders of CityLab High School. She was the primary partner in the industry, helping put together the proposal to create the school while also creating a nonprofit to fund CityLab.
The Career Institute East opened this school year. The district’s three career institutes provide industry-standard, professional and technical education in eight different avenues: interior design, aerospace, HVAC, and cybersecurity, among others.
After completing each Pathway course, students can earn industry-specific certifications and prepare for high-quality, high-paying, and high-demand jobs.
Toffer spoke to The Hub about how she plans to use her vast experience in architecture and design to inspire her students.
What lessons will you be teaching your students?
I think one of the main reasons I am here is because the students have a real vision and understanding – not just the technical skills they need to learn – but the social and emotional values and skills they have You have to develop to really have a chance in the professional world.
I think I give them an understanding of these different areas, but in some ways I am a link between the world of architecture and practice. So I can invite my colleagues or speak from my own experience.
I am like a window that you can look through and see what working in architecture looks like, but also how you can build your own path. Find out which school they have to go to, how much school they would need to become an architect, what skills they would need. Having these conversations and also addressing the challenges they face.
How will you inspire your students?
I want to help them realize that it is imperative that architects and interior designers solve many of the needs we have in our communities, in our neighborhoods and in our cities. I want them to realize that they can help solve all of these needs we have. It would be remarkable if I could make them understand that by pursuing a career in design, they could really make an impact on their communities.
Why did you want to go to a classroom?
Teaching was something I’ve always been very excited about, and it wasn’t always obvious that I felt like that.
I’ve always been excited about sharing my experiences with the younger generation. Even when I was working on new projects, I was always the one working and looking after the younger employees. I didn’t realize it back then, and it took high school volunteer work and student supervision to really realize that my place is here, to take advantage of these opportunities and to create the future.
I think I made the decision to teach in the last three years, but only when a real opportunity arose. I saw the teaching position at Career Institute East and applied and really followed. That got me to finally do it.
This press release was prepared by the Dallas Independent School District. The views expressed here are the author’s own.