Serving youth with Project H

By Kristen Johnson

As an elementary educator, I am very familiar with the importance of STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and math). So, I was really impressed when I learned about Project H, in the documentary If You Build It.

The goal of Project H sounds complex: uses the power of creativity, design, and hands-on building to amplify the raw brilliance of youth, transform communities, and improve K–12 public education from within. But, the premise is really simple and absolutely necessary – provide kids with hands-on opportunities to learn about the importance of building something for the community.

The documentary takes a look at the start of Project H, which began in Bertie County, North Carolina. Watching the kids start with basically no training at all, to end up building and designing a farmer’s market for the entire county to use is absolutely amazing. Watching the project subsequently fold up and leave town after two years due to lack of funding is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, my experiences in classrooms is such that it wasn’t all that surprising.

Luckily, the project has been continued in Berkeley, California for new students to learn and grow through working in the community. Science, technology, and math skills are so desperately needed in the workforce, so it is incredibly refreshing to see kids learning these skills in such a hands-on way. For more information on this nonprofit, see here:

Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller, the teachers at Studio H, are incredibly talented architects and designers with a gift for giving back to the community. I have absolutely no idea what their religious training may be, but they are certainly “living the Church” as far as I am concerned. Their selflessness (living and teaching for 2 years without pay because they believed in the project so strongly) shows strength of character and courage that we can all learn from.

I hope that public school administrators are paying attention.

3 John 1:4 (NRSV): I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of:


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