South Orangetown Central School District

Tappan Zee High School senior Lea Bachert knew that she cared deeply about animals and wanted to make a difference. When she discovered Tevaland Sanctuary Farm in Hillburn earlier this year, Lea reached out to see how she could help. Although the program wasn’t able to take on an intern, Lea saw that a dog house was at the top of a wishlist the organization had posted online.

“I joined the cabinetry class and started working on it–it took about two months. I’d never done something like this, but it’s what I had to do to make it happen,” she says. “I’ve learned so much and it gave me a chance to give back.”

Having a shop classroom allows students to develop skills with their hands AND brains, notes technology and physics teacher Jim Keelty, who teaches the cabinetry class. “Lea joined the course at the end of the third quarter, even though she knew she couldn’t receive credit. She needed to use the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the size of the dog house roof and a table saw to cut it. She had fun and did a great job.”

Mr. Keelty’s physics students have also been in the shop this spring, applying concepts they had learned about waves and electromagnetism by building electronic musical instruments using 3-D printing, X-Carve software and power tools. Next year, he plans to train students on the school’s new CNC mill to create working prosthetic limbs.

Tackling a meaningful hands-on project helped Lea develop skills and learn more about herself. “I have an open mind and I’m not sure what I want to do in the future,” she explains. “This project made me more sure that a helping profession is the direction I want to go.”

Student holding black dog on leash with teacher and woman in hat standing in front of dog house she'd built