Woodland Public Schools Superintendent helps construct school in Dominican Republic

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Woodland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Green traveled to the Dominican Republic to help construct a school along with 50 other educators and administrators from throughout the United States as part of the Lifetouch Memory Mission.

Woodland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Green was selected as one of 50 educators to help construct a school in Constanza, Dominican Republic.
Woodland Public Schools Superintendent Michael Green was selected as one of 50 educators to help construct a school in Constanza, Dominican Republic. 

Lifetouch provides photography services for school districts throughout the United States. In 2000, the company established the Lifetouch Memory Mission to enable its employees to travel to destinations throughout the world including Kosovo, Jamaica, Haiti to provide intensive volunteer services in week-long trips.

For 2017, Lifetouch Memory Mission established the goal of building a school in Constanza, Dominican Republic. The School Superintendents Association (AASA), the National Association of Elementary Principals (NAESP), the National School Board Association (NSBA), and the National PTA joined forces to send school employee volunteers to help build the school.

The team helped construct a second floor on the school located in Constanza.
The team helped construct a second floor on the school located in Constanza. 

Green applied and was accepted to volunteer for the mission taking place from January 16-24. "When I learned about the program, I was intrigued by the opportunity to impact education in a developing country," he explained. "I figured it was a long shot, but decided 'what the heck' and threw my name in the hat."

Funds received from company contributions and donations pay for the transportation, meals, and lodging of the volunteers as they dedicate themselves to constructing a school for the small, isolated agricultural community of Constanza located in the mountains northwest of Santo Domingo. "We were 4,000 feet up in the mountains with a five-hour drive by bus to reach the village from the airport," said Green. "It's a completely different world there."

"When you go on vacation as a tourist, you typically only interact with residents who work in the service profession and you don't really get to experience the culture of the community itself," said Green. "In Constanza, we visited people's homes and worked side-by-side with local residents who work in a variety of trades."

When news spread of Green's acceptance to the mission, the Woodland community rallied their support. "Community members donated more than $1,000 to help pay for supplies used in making the school," said Green. "I am always impressed and grateful for the Woodland community's support both of our own local schools, but also for their dedication to help organizations outside of the Woodland area, too."


Due to Constanza's isolation, no machinery could assist in the construction meaning all work needed to be performed by hand.
Due to Constanza's isolated location, no machinery could assist in the construction meaning all work needed to be performed by hand. 

Green and the rest of the team built a second floor addition to the school facilities to help educate the children of the small village. "Government support for schools is pretty limited, and, as a result, many of the children there don’t attend school because they simply don't have the opportunity to do so," said Green. "Lifetouch coordinated this year's project with a local pastor to provide school facilities where the political infrastructure cannot help at this time."

Green helped pour concrete, build walls, and paint the rooms which will become the Rio Grande school. All of the work was done by hand with manual tools as heavy machinery couldn't travel to the isolated village. "The work was incredibly physically demanding with no cement trucks, no forklifts, and the like," explained Green. "The team of volunteers worked together and with local tradespeople to accomplish lots of work who spoke no English, so it was very much a growing experience."

Superintendent Green made friends with local tradespeople and students while working on the construction.
Superintendent Green made friends with local tradespeople and students while working on the construction.

Green returned from his trip with new perspectives on areas of the world that need support in order to thrive, particularly the people he met. "There was demonstrable joy in their very meager existence, at least by American standards," said Green. "The people we encountered seemed to have a world view that was very at peace and accepting of what the day would bring."

For more information about the Lifetouch Memory Mission, visit their website at: http://www.lifetouchmemorymission.com.

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