We’re so proud of these kids and their teacher! A Florida shop teacher instills lessons of community and compassion while teaching students about carpentry.

Barry Stewart is a teacher at Englewood High who has found a unique way to teach his shop class students compassion. He teaches his students the standard curriculum with a twist to help animals in need. His students are taught how to build houses, but on a smaller scale – dog houses.

Stewart teaches the high schoolers all of the skills necessary to build a house, and has created houses for many dogs and feral cats. They donate the completed houses to animal rescues and low-income families who don’t have a way to provide shelter for their pets.

The houses are built with the same techniques used to build a human home, including tiled roofing and siding. The houses are 2ft by 3ft and specifically built to keep pets safe and warm in the cold. The feral cat houses have removable roofs to make it easier for people to clean and remove kittens.

Stewart began this endeavor over 14 years ago, when he worked at a Career Center in North Carolina. He has worked with local rescue agencies to make sure that the homes went where they were needed. Many of the dog houses go to people who love their animals, but cannot afford the shelter. This prevents animals who are loved and otherwise cared for from ending up in the pound.
The project is designed to teach students carpentry, community and compassion. Even the materials for the pet homes are donated from Lanahan Lumber, a company in Jacksonville. While the project has just begun in Jacksonville, there were over 500 of the homes created at his previous school.

The work Stewart is doing is a wonderful way to teach students a variety of skills all at once. Hopefully this movement gets noticed and takes off across the country. While making birdhouses is pretty cool – I think providing shelter for dogs is even better!

~ Community Support