Updated: May 6, 2022
As we arrived at our hotel in Washington DC, I put down my cell phone to address the excited group of students. I stood at the front of the bus facing them and they quickly quieted at my glum expression. “An announcement was just made that our convention was cancelled because of new mandates with the Coronavirus. There can be no gatherings larger than 150 people.” We had just arrived at our convention which three thousand students and teachers attend annually. I paused in the silence before continuing. “But, I promise that as we await new flights home, I will make this one of the best learning experiences of your life.” Their stunned expressions changed into cheers.
I have always been the “Field Trip Teacher.” With over 34 years under my belt as a public high school teacher, I take my students to the theatre or to film festivals and conventions every year. It is what I do. It’s who I am. I connect young people to opportunities that prompt new ways of thinking. I may provide a field trip but it is the student who now owns his learning.
I thought about the importance of field-study trips when breaking the news to my students of our cancelled film and broadcast convention in Washington DC. It was up to me to save this trip for these disappointed teenagers. As this was early in the campaign against the spread of the Coronavirus, we could still walk about in small groups. I quickly gave them an assignment.
While our travel agent worked on our group flight home, I assigned small groups to film projects such as interviews, public service announcements, a music video, and short film. Without even prompting them, students woke up early in the morning excited to work. By 2:30 in the afternoon, I stuffed them with pizza and told them our flight home was scheduled for the next morning. May the sight-seeing begin! Huddled together, we listened with rapt attention, as our guide led us through a night-time ghost tour of the monuments. We listened to rich details about our Founding Forefathers and other colorful citizens of Washington. Exhausted from exercising our brains and bodies, we headed back to the hotel to pack for home.
Now almost three weeks later, my students and I communicate daily with our virtual tools. These empowered students are finishing their film projects that they began in Washington and they are on fire! It doesn’t take academic research for me to recognize that my students are experiencing the positive outcomes of field-study trips. It’s exciting to see the increase in cognitive development, a new passion and engagement in a specific field, a memory that will stay with them forever, and new relationships built on a common experience.
Just as important as the destination, is the journey along the way where these positive outcomes result. Along the years, I’ve beaten the path to Opportunity traveling with my students to museums and theatre venues throughout San Diego County, New York, London, Italy, Greece, and the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh Scotland. I believe so much in what I do, that I joined ArtsBusXpress and now serve on the board as Vice President. Just what exactly is ArtsBusXpress?
Some people believe that ArtsBusXpress is a bus garage or a transportation consortium. They are mistaken. While we do have a yellow school bus for our logo, we are not in the transportation business, but rather in the opportunity business. Our vision is to fuel learning opportunities while utilizing the arts and science venues of San Diego County as a scaffold for learning. We assist our San Diego County teachers in providing transportation to field study trips that foster a passion for learning and in return develop future scientists, artists, engineers, and mathematicians, who studies show, will become future patrons and supporters. This is why I do what I do and this is why ArtsBusXpress is in the opportunity business.