School lets students earn PE credit by doing yard work for the elderly and people with disabilities

By Hope Schreiber for

Students in Dubuque, Iowa helped out their neighbors and earned PE credits thanks to a recent innovative change in their school’s curriculum.

Students at the Alternative Learning Center, which teaches juniors and seniors who are at risk of dropping out, spent the last two weeks of school helping elderly or people with disabilities tend to their yard, with their hard work going toward their physical education credits, according to KWWL.

“In Iowa, alternative education is a perspective, not a procedure or a program. It is based upon a belief that there are many ways to become educated, as well as many types of environments and structures within which this may occur,” the Iowa Department of Education’s website reads. “Further, it recognizes that all people can be educated and that it is in society’s interest to ensure that all are educated.”

“The students and I … come out and help [those needing their assistance]. Could be raking leaves, pulling weeds, cutting grass, cleaning gutters, just depends on what they need,” a teacher at the school, Tim Hitzler, told the station.

Hitzler said that he initially wanted students to perform yard work for credits because it benefits all parties involved. He added that while the students aren’t always thrilled to get their hands dirty, they have become more engaged once they see the finished product and, more importantly, realize how happy it is making their neighbors.

“The students aren’t typically too excited at the beginning but once they get involved and start doing the yard work they become more motivated,” Hitzler said. “What they really like is helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person.”

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