This past week was every social studies educator’s dream.
I got to partake in two spectacular events as a Supervisor of Social Studies, and honestly, it was the reverse effect of field trips. Instead of students being the only ones energized from an experience, I was the one energized.
On Tuesday, I escorted 12 hungry, eager AP government students on an Amtrak train to Washington DC. Our trip was not sightseeing; our trip was work. We marched right over to the Longworth House Office Building and was immediately immersed in the culture of the Hill. Students got to interact with Legislative Aides, Research Assistants, Lobbyists, and even a Congressman or two. The highlight? Watching every student light up as we were able to sit in the gallery of the House during a vote. It WAS their Christmas morning – each student identifying various Congressman and sharing their accomplishments. It was as if they were on the red carpet seeing all of their favorite stars. Upon boarding the train, you would think all would pass out; the opposite again. Students were incredibly jovial and sharing their highlights on the ride home. In the end, it was a 14 hour day – and worth it from start to finish. The students learned more in one day then they ever could through any other teaching method, and I was reminded that students with a drive and passion can do ANYTHING. I’m still smiling.
The second night this week was, by far, one of the most amazing productions I have seen as an educator. A year ago, a dozen students were researching veterans that died on their birth date, and by chance, came across two soldiers that died during the Vietnam War. Upon further research, the students and their teacher found out that there was no monument or memorial dedicated to them in town. The idea was then formed; create a memorial for these two soldiers in the high school. Over the year, students raised over $15,000.00 to construct a beautiful memorial, complete with personal memorabilia, a waterfall, and even iBooks detailing their story. The monument was officially unveiled on Friday evening, but before, a ceremony took place. A ceremony that included relatives from Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and Connecticut. A ceremony that included entertainment from the school’s chorus, marching bands, and color guard. A presentation that included a song written by a senior that was presented so eloquently it drew tears from the hundreds that filled the auditorium on the Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend. Be reminded that all of this was completely student driven, from start to finish. If that’s not pride, honor, and respect, I don’t know what is.
The memorial is the epitome of what every social studies educator wants their students to be: civic-minded, socially informed, and well-rounded.
If you aren’t pushing for this in classrooms everyday, what are you doing?