When two great things come together, there’s no denying the magic that can happen. Aaron Kennedy, a Graphic Design teacher at Cedar Hill High School, came up with brilliant combination. He put his passion for education together with Dogs on Deployment; the results were nothing short of astounding.
For several months, he’d been following Dogs on Deployment via our social media sites. The more he researched us, and learned about our mission and values, the more he realized what a great match we would be for a project in his class.
He says that, “one thing I’ve learned in my many years, is the importance of finding tangible, real world, projects for my students to work on…[it] not only allows them to expand their skills as a designer, but it also allows them to receive feedback from someone other than myself.”
The project was for students to design various graphic products for Dogs on Deployment. “I don’t think they quite understood how important this project was until they started working through it and researching the organization,” says Kennedy. Even though he’s had all of these students in his classes for at least a year, he says that working on this project has allowed him to watch “each of them grow and connect with it in various ways. It has presented a wonderful opportunity to learn more about an aspect of our military that they would not have known about otherwise.”
He sums the experience up by saying, “the best part of the project has been watching them realize the potential they have in themselves to be great designers.”
Perhaps the best voices to explain what the project, and Dogs on Deployment has come to mean to them, are some of Aaron Kennedy’s students (that's their work, featured below, too!):
"I loved working on this project, not only has it challenged me in graphic design but it has also gave me information about an organization I didn’t know about. It warms my heart knowing that there are actually people out there who care for the serviceman’s dogs. I am thankful that I got to be a part of something so touching." –Ariel Johnson, 12th Grade
"Working with Dogs on Deployment has been a prestigious honor for me personally, especially knowing that my work could possibly be displayed and benefit the organization. The good that Dogs On Deployment does specifically as a non-profit is absolutely amazing, and to know that I’m a part of something as big as it is shows me that the aesthetics of the artwork that is graphic design can be influential enough to make someone stop and make the decision to be a part. Supporting our troops but also the children of our troops (their pets) is a sentiment that will be on my mind and in my heart for the weeks and months to come.
Creating work for a client versus doing something personally or within the confines of the school has given me a well-welcomed challenge to prepare myself. As opposed to my own work, I have to be mindful that my own tastes as far as designs go should be as expansive as possible, in order to please a larger range of clients. The work that I have done opens new doors and this new experience will anticipate the challenges to come." –Devin Hayes, 12th Grade
"It makes me feel very honored that I’m helping a non-profit organization and even the military, because they are our heroes, and I would do anything in my power to help them. (Besides joining the military, of course) My uncle is in the navy, and currently in Afghanistan. I notice he’s stressed a lot, and I only wish to help make his military life easier. I feel much better helping a real world project, then a school one, even though the pressure is worst, since you have a shot of everyone in the world to see. In the end, however, I feel glad and honored to help a solider make his life easier, and that’s that." -–Anthony Jackson, 11th Grade.
"Working with Dogs on Deployment has been a completely different experience than anything school related that I’ve worked on. Knowing their mission and all they’ve accomplished and hope to accomplish gives me a sense of duty to reflect everything they’ve done through my work. This project has given me a new perspective of all the ways one can represent all the good a non-profit organization such as this can bring to military officers and their beloved pets. This was definitely an amazing opportunity and I’m glad I got to participate in such a wonderful cause."–Sarah Rodriguez, 11th Grade
"Working on this project has been a great experience for me; it has helped me grow as an artist and a designer by making me think in ways I had never thought of before. This project was not only a good to help me grow my skills, but now I have an item for my portfolio other than a school assignment. Knowing that I’m also helping a non-profit organization means a lot to me, because I know that they are not only sincere in their mission, but that they are also dedicated to their cause of helping our servicemen. One of the best things about this project is knowing that my work is going to be helping our military, because they do so much for us, this is the least I could do for them." -– Myles Ross 12th Grade
"Dogs on Deployment has benefited me by giving me real life experiences on working with a real life company. Working on a real world project is totally different from a typical school project. With the real world project there is a little bit more pressure on making your work look good because it doesn’t have to be good for just you, it has to be good for the whole company that you’re working for. School projects are more laid back on how your work looks because no one outside the class may never see it but with the real world project the whole world may see it and you want to make sure that it looks at its very best. This project will help me in the future because it is something I can put on resumes and job applications that will help make me look good. I can put the work that I have done for this organization into my portfolio and it is giving me real life practice so I’ll know what to do and how to act with other potential companies.
Knowing that I am helping a non-profit organization makes me want to work harder because they’re working for a very good cause and I want to make sure that I can help them as much as I can. Knowing that I am helping the military makes me feel great, because they do so much for us and I am happy that I can at least do something in return for them. They have done so much and sacrificed practically everything for us and this is the least that I can do to show my appreciation for all of their hard work. So I am glad that I got the chance to work for Dogs on Deployment and I hope that they get all the help and support that they need because this is a great cause to participate in." -– Samuel Wise 12th Grade
"It was pretty tough doing a real life project for me because I’m used to doing fictional stuff like video games, comics, and cartoons but I did give the D.o.D project a shot and the inspiration I got from it was really cool because it was for the military and I am a big fan of the military. Because my grandfather was in the Army and fought in the Korean War and I’m also in Air force Junior ROTC and it gave me good inspiration and ideas for this project. There were times where I also had some hard times trying to concentrate and figure out other ideas, but I kept thinking about Mike Rowe’s (from dirty jobs) quote “Work hard and smart” as I did I began to make more ideas and look at historical pictures and equipment from different wars and draw out the ideas on my paper and complete it in my graphic design class."–Sean Cooper, 12th Grade
"While working on the Dogs on Deployment project, I’ve started
to understand the hardships of the lives of the military servicemen. During the project, I expressed my love for dogs through my own artwork. Dogs on Deployment offered a challenge to my creativity, which was a great and enjoyable thing to do. This was a fun experience, and I plan on actually boarding one of their pets when I become an adult." -– Justin Pulley 11th Grade