Terry Immel, a teacher from Dover Middle School, has led 32 student trips to Washington D.C. Although he recently retired after 35 years of teaching, his passion for student travel remains. He is now a tour leader! Hear his perspective on the benefits of student travel:
Q: Why is traveling important to education?
A: One of the things that I’ve thought of over the years, and I’ve gone on 32 student trips to Washington D.C., is that students need to go in a big group and stay in a room and learn how to get along with other people, such as bus people or kids in the room, and how to function in a big crowd.
I think probably the main thing is that if you are going to live in a country like ours, a free country, with our liberties, students need to go to the source to start to understand where those freedoms came from, how they got them, and not to take them for granted. Washington D.C. is a good place to do that, if they haven’t started already.
Q: Have you observed positive changes in the classroom as a result of the educational trips?
A: I see that, when I was teaching, about every year because we had a discipline plan. Students can’t go on the trip in May unless they meet those discipline requirements. Kids are kids and they are going to goof up and they have chances to do that. But, kids will toe the line all year and they want to go on the trip, they don’t want to be left out so they meet those requirements. I think that that changes them in the long run too. If they have a year of behaving, and they weren’t that type of student before, it’s good training to learn that you will be rewarded for that.
Q: What has been most rewarding about traveling with students?
A: I would say that the first students I took are about 45 years old and when people see me in town, the first thing they mention is “Are you still going to Washington D.C.? Are you still going on the trip?” Almost inevitably, we talk about that and the things that happened. It’s a good memory for everybody. Even the adults we take, teachers and adults from the community, they do the same thing. They see me and think of the trip and that’s what we discuss.
Q: Why Scholastica Travel?
A: With Scholastica we’ve taken almost 30 student trips and adult trips, we’ve taken about eight or nine of those.
You find a lot of schools that switch companies, always looking for a better deal just trying to find the lowest price, but I want quality. Over the years, I’ve developed a good relationship with the office at Scholastica. I’m a person that worries about things; I need to be organized, so I’m always calling. I feel like I’m bugging them, but they always answer with good sound and they’re happy, and they are interested to help me. And I’ve also developed some good friendships with the tour leaders and those continue on until today.
Yes, going with our school, I have done some tour leading too. Everybody that I’ve been with I have learned something from. They are willing to share their expertise. They’re always fun and happy and upbeat people to be around.
Q: What made you decide to work as an independently contracted tour leader for Scholastica Travel during your retirement?
A: I’ve always had the interest, but never had the time, other than with the school. I was brought here in 1969 as a 16 year old, and that piqued my interest. I’ve been involved with the trip for a lot of years. I guess just wanting to share that because someone shared it with me.
Q:Anything else to add?
A: A lot of people will say, “Oh you don’t remember me!” And I say, “I do, you were on the trip, and this is what we did,” etc. My teaching career wouldn’t have been as good had I not become involved in travel.