I am a high school math teacher, so I teach math. But really, I teach kids. I want my students to graduate ready for their next adventure in life, whether that is college or a job. I do this by working to create a positive classroom culture and develop relationships with my students. I do this by developing interesting and relevant lessons and activities to help my students understand math and learn to reason mathematically. I do this by integrating technology in my class and school, and utilizing that technology to connect students to a world that is larger than Saguache.
Part of showing kids that the world is bigger than our small community is showing them the bigger world. Two years ago, I visited Yellowstone National Park with my husband. I started thinking about the impact experiencing the beauty, science, and wildlife in that park could have on our students. This became my dream for my students. Last summer, I started a National Park Club and asked the science teacher to join me as a co-sponsor. We took 8 students to Arches National Park, made a trip to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and ended the year with a trip to Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico during the last week of school.
How do you imagine bigger and better places if you rarely leave your small community? Our school is in the poorest county in Colorado for children aged 0-17. Many of our students do not have the opportunity to be exposed to different places. The National Park Club gives my students an opportunity to explore and be inspired by the beautiful outdoors of the West.
Our four-day trip gave me the chance to develop stronger relationships with the seven students that attended. While driving and during the evenings at camp, we visited about school, dreams, future plans, as well as problems and struggles.
We had a great meal, ate ice cream and enjoyed great service at Kaleidoscoops in Carlsbad. Then on our way back for the evening, we encountered the biggest hail storm I had ever seen and played in the hail when it was over.
And of course, we had the opportunity to be inspired by the fantastic geological features of the Carlsbad Caverns. By the end of the trip, students wanted to be cavers, park rangers, and travel photographers. Often times the most memorable educational experiences come far away from school. This adventure was worthwhile!