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Dogwood Elementary workers built a house on summer vacation

Teachers and administrators say the work was challenging, but rewarding.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Summer vacation is a time to relax and unwind. But five teachers and administrators from Dogwood Elementary School in Fairfax County used their time out of the classroom to give back in a big way. 

Principal Kate Beckner took a team to Guatemala to build a house for a family of six. It was arranged through the nonprofit From Houses to Homes. This was Beckner's third time working with the group, but it was the first time she brought a group of volunteers from the school with her.

Dogwood Elementary is a Title I school, and many of the students it serves come from Central America. Beckner said the project helped her teachers gain a better understanding of the students they work with every day. 

The work was challenging, because the group arrived with no formal house building training. 

“We went there without any information, and no knowledge of building a home,” said Evie Rodriguez, administrative assistant at Dogwood Elementary School. “So of course you get there nervous wondering what you are going to put together.”

But they got it done! 

The completed house, in the town of Sumpango, features a plaque that names Dogwood Elementary School and the five school employees who built it. A copy of the plaque is on display at the school.

Beckner plans to bring another group of volunteers to Guatemala next year. Rodriguez says she wants to build two houses next time.

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