At Fort Dodge Senior High, instructor Todd Constable teaches the school's Understanding Social Systems class.
"It's a class designed to get the kids involved in the community, and get them to understand how they can make a difference. And that the actions they take will help others," he said.
Through the project-oriented class, his students have held successful fundraisers and canned food and clothing drives for local charities, as well as community events, including a haunted house for Halloween and a holiday movie showing at Christmas.
According to Constable, it's important for students to get involved in the community.
"You have people who have needs, and if everybody just turned their head on homelessness, on hunger, then I think we'd have more problems with crime, with poverty, than we already do," he said.
The students in the class identify for themselves the problems they see, Constable said.
"As educators our job is to direct them in the ways in which they can help their community, by putting on certain functions, to not just identify it, but how to make change," he said. "And that's to act."
The most important lesson for the students, Constable said, is to take action against problems.
"We can talk about it all we want, but unless we act on certain issues we're never going to see change, and that's the whole idea," he said. "If we can make a little change here, then when they come out of our classrooms, when they leave here, what's not to say they'll want to continue doing that when they see the effects they have on other people?"
Constable said it is heartening to see his students embrace this challenge.
"I feel good when I help somebody, and I know that I see it in the kids. Their actions, just knowing that they helped somebody in need, that makes them feel good about what they're doing," he said. "You see the looks on their faces when they talk about it, how cool it was to do that."
He added, "I just love seeing the kids help others, and Fort Dodge kids are extremely passionate when you give them something, a goal or an issue to discuss."
In addition to teaching at FDSH, Constable enjoys helping to keep his hometown clean. It's a passion he shares with his students on Earth Day.
"I usually have a busload of kids and we're usually out cleaning up some part of the community," he said. "I love the Earth Day aspect. In all of our classrooms, we talk to them about the importance of going green and taking care of the environment, why it's important."