If you ask Blackboard employees what they like most about their job, you will most frequently hear about how enjoyable it is to work at a place that strives to make a difference in the world through enabling education. Last Friday, I was one of about 20 Blackboarders having a great time at Spring Hill Lake Elementary School for the Greater DC Cares 2011 SERVATHON. The Servathon gave us an opportunity to make a difference in a way that was a little different from our day jobs, and we had a blast doing it. And, this service day was the inaugural event for Blackboard Education Corps, a new initiative to give employees the opportunity to have a positive impact on education through volunteer opportunities in their community. Over the course of the year, every Blackboard employee will be given a full day off to participate in similar community service events.

At the school, we focused on a courtyard area that had lost a bit of its luster – by the end of the day this courtyard sang! It went from a space full of dirt, weeds and dull grass to a space filled with beautiful plants, lots of color, and a good bit of laughter. We had excellent student helpers to inspire the paintings and inspirational signs now lining the freshly mulched trees and flowers. The students are now welcomed into the courtyard by a colorful, friendly path of stepping-stones and a huge, adorable sunshine mural. My personal favorite in the area is the brand new planting bed, ready for vegetables to be planted later this year!

As a designer, I love seeing the “before and after” effect, watching something come alive.

Before:


After:


As a person who loves kids, I love seeing that these students now have some inspiration around them that they deserve.  I am so glad that we could be a part of making this improvement with and for the SHL students and teachers. We also talked to Ray, a 4th grade special ed teacher at Spring Hill Lake. He told us why our work sprucing up the garden will have a positive impact on the students and the school.

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