Service-learning: A garden and a future

Columbus took the spotlight this summer and showed how community engagement can change students’ lives. Beechcroft HS teacher Tori Washington and her students presented in Atlanta to NEA delegates the story of their community garden, one of many service-learning projects funded by a three-year grant in partnership with NEA, CEA and OSU. The presentation was part of the new “Raise Your Hand” campaign.

Students Rendell Buckhalter, Taryn Lewis-Smith, Chelsey Rodgers and Christian Scase took the stage. Rendell tearfully recounted how the project instilled in him a confidence he didn’t know he had. “I didn’t know what my purpose was in life,” he said. “Was I going to go to college or not? Community is now a big aspect of my life that I need to carry on. My teacher, Ms. Washington, empowered me and helped me look past the statistics about black males not graduating. Now I get up every morning and look at success right in the eye.”

The “Raise Your Hand” campaign features dynamic and respected teachers sharing ways to boost student success and achievement. NEA strongly believes that educators-not politicians or self-proclaimed “reform” experts-know what works. They are the ones to lead and act for student success.

“Our members are coming together to help lift up our good ideas, our smart policies and our successful programs and spread them to every corner of the country,” says NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

Go to to see videos from the event.