In Jacksonville, Florida, there was one high school teacher who found a way to not only teach his students a valuable skill but also managed to help animals in need at the same time. Barry Stewart, a Building Construction teacher decided to change something up in his 14-year career by teaching his students construction skills through building houses for dogs and feral cats. All the houses that were constructed by the students were then donated to local animal shelters as well as families were in need.
Friends of Jacksonville Animals, Inc. said, “Under Mr. Stewart’s expert guidance, his classes construct, using the exact same methods one would use to build a human house, houses for dogs! And Mr. Stewart then very generously donates those houses to local organizations that can get them in the hands of members of the community that might not otherwise be able to provide their dogs with suitable housing.”
The animal charity worked closely with the city’s animal control officers in order to sue out people within the community who were in need of better housing for their dogs, but couldn’t afford it. They were then surprised with free home delivery of these student-made houses.
The group explained, “These are dogs that very likely would be sleeping completely exposed to the elements if not for the progressive and generous thinking of Mr. Stewart.”
Many of the recipients were overjoyed to be receiving the pet homes for free.
The animals weren’t the only ones who were benefiting from the teacher’s brilliant idea. The students themselves learned valuable lessons in how to build things, even if they were small homes for dogs.
As Stewart explained to People Magazine, “The framing technique and terminology for pet housing is the same as for a regular house…The floor system, wall system, roof system, and all the actual parts are identical. So, every part we use on the pet houses we can reference to the correlating part in the home. I realized that it would be easy enough to work into what we were doing in the classroom. It was a good fit.”
In addition, the students also learned how to alter the different dog houses in order to fit the needs of the individual dogs’ needs. Not only that, but houses built for the feral cats were made with removable roofs in order for the caretakers to be able to easily clean the litter boxes, as well as to manage to grab the kittens in order to spay and neuter them, as well as give medical care when needed.
“That experience taught students that there is actually a thought process behind most things…Even a really good idea can withstand some improvements,” said Stewart.
Stewart’s classes managed to build more than 600 dog houses as well as 110 feral cat houses. Given his charitable work, Stewart managed to gain the support of both local construction and lumber supplies stores who were willing to donate materials to the cause.
Friends of Jacksonville Animals posted, “Thank you, Barry, for being an incredible member of our community! And a HUGE thank you to the students of Englewood High School that put the man-hours into these houses. The animals that get to sleep in a warm, dry house are particularly thankful for you!”
Thanks to one teacher’s initiative and idea, it managed to bring a community together to help animals in need. And that is a wonderful thing.