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Piper Tamler is no stranger to getting her hands dirty when it comes to projects.  As the Lead Builder of the bus project at Armadillo Technical Institute, Piper and the students at ATI are transforming a school bus into a home for a houseless family in the Phoenix-Talent School District. Piper is working with Talent Maker City, Southern Oregon ESD, the Skoolie Home Foundation, South Medford High school CTE teacher Justin Eager and many other community partners to build this bus into a home.

On September 8, 2020, the Almeda fire started near Ashland and burned a destructive path through Talent and Phoenix Oregon.  The fire left many homes and businesses in piles of ash and debris.  Families were displaced and many still do not have permanent residences.  There are signs of reconstruction but with the lack of tradespeople to fill construction jobs, the progress is slow.  That is where specialized training programs are stepping up to help fill the gap.

The Bus Project was developed through the collaboration of community and industry partners to “ignite” student interest in the construction trades by providing hands-on opportunities that build awareness, encourage exploration, and engage through real-world experiences that dovetail with regional pathways in high-wage, high demand fields.

The Skoolie Home Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing housing for families, donated the bus currently being transformed at ATI.  Students at ATI spent the last few months renovating the bus with plumbing, electrical, HVAC, cabinetry, and the standard creature comforts needed to help families back on their feet.  The design and layout are part of the curriculum developed by Talent Maker City. As part of the design process, students created a 3D model of the bus out of cardboard.  “We kind of came to it organically by looking at the space and having the students design it themselves” says Piper.  “The soft deadline for the bulk of the project is by Thanksgiving with the rest of the finish work going through the end of the year.

There are currently three bus projects taking place in Southern Oregon with several more beginning in 2022.

More exciting news and information about this and other IGNITE projects are coming soon!  Please follow us on Facebook at:, or visit our website at:, to stay up to date on this and other IGNITE projects.

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