Mr. Dickey is an art teacher at Union Township School Corporation in Indiana. “Teaching service and philanthropy to students allows them to see the world and learn where they fit in and how they can contribute, even through art!” 

A large group of 250 K-5 students participated in the service-learning project titled Growing a Community of Gratitude. The following Learning to Give lessons helped the students decide on how they wanted to help their community: We the Community - Past, Present and FutureDoodle Stones, and Earth Connections. To connect the grade levels in learning, the older students were responsible for presenting their citizenship lessons to the younger students. 

During an art unit focused on creating lines and shapes in clay, Mr. Dickey incorporated this service-learning project. The K-5 students made "doodle stones" with words of citizenship and gratitude for the community. The youth took a walking field trip outside of their school and cleaned along the walk, and even planted a tree. Then, they talked about their responsibility as a citizen in their community and put their stones around the new tree.  

Students said, “Trees are what help us live, I am going to make sure to water this tree every day with my bucket!" and, "I told my grandma what we did, and she was proud of me!"  

Student were asked to pick what word they wanted to put on their stone and decorate it to their own liking.  

“The students learned that gratitude is shown in many ways from action to words to leadership and that we all need to be thankful for each other in order for the community to stay strong,” said Mr. Dickey. 

Mr. Dickey plans to continue projects such as this one and to remind the students daily of their contributions to the school. “Students felt a part of something bigger and that they could contribute to their community, a sense of belonging was a first for many!” This project helped students to realize the impact they could make on their school community, both environmentally and through words of encouragement.