What does service learning look like in Vermont?

Leland & Gray students take on a school community makeover

At Leland & Gray Union Middle High School, students decided to make their school a more inspiring place to learn. They put in flower boxes, painted murals, planted a garden, assembled a forest nature walk and built an outdoor classroom — all in one week.

Here’s what it looked like.

Service learning can take many forms, but in Townshend VT, it took the form of adding light, paint, trees and butterflies to the school community.


  • wrote grants;
  • collected supplies;
  • researched flora & fauna;
  • designed murals;
  • cleared trails;

and built an outdoor classroom. All with an eye to making the school a more inspiring place not just for themselves, but for their community. And for the future.

I think maybe the most satisfying part was, like, knowing at the end we’re gonna have a lot more beautiful things, like, on the school campus? And outside in our community.

So, like, later on, when we’re like, seniors or juniors in high school we get to look back and say, like, ‘Oh, we did this.’ And it’s beautifying the community.

–Ansley, Leland & Gray 8th grader

Throughout the process, students planned what roles could look like in their groups, and consistently focused on how each individual contribution could better the school — and surrounding community — as a whole. Seventh grader Enzo explained the goals of the group focused on adding flower boxes to one of the school’s rear entrances:

We’re doing it to make this area beautiful. To make the parents who drop off the kids know that we like the community.

So exciting to see all this hard work come to fruition! Congratulations, Leland & Gray!

What does service learning look like at your school? What could it look like?

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs. Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

What do you think?