About the Author
Jason Masterson is the principal of Joseph L. McCourt Middle School from Cumberland, Rhode Island. Before he was principal, he was the assistant principal for four years of North Cumberland Middle School, in Cumberland. His wife, Dawn Masterson, is a teacher assistant in their hometown of North Kingstown, RI. They have a seven year old son named James.
Impact of Student Travel
We have taken several groups to Washington, D.C. and each time we return, we are amazed at what our students bring home with them. The overnight trip for our students is important because it exposes them to the beauty and grace of our countries’ most treasured memorials, museums, and buildings, and the essence and heart of our great nation. Our students learned of the early beginnings and what our founding leaders fought for, developed, and for which we are now expected to maintain pursuant to the ideals and virtues of our country. These real life experiences cannot be fully appreciated by our students within a textbook, a tweet, a Facebook fan page or a website. Nothing can replace the aura of driving down the road and seeing the Washington Monument, the dome of the Capitol, or the Jefferson Memorial. These permanent fixtures are the constant reminders of how we, as Americans, have worked hard and achieved what has been referred to as American exceptionalism.
When our students return from the trip, they have a new appreciation for history and are more willing to have conversation relating to real world events that are taking place. We find students are more interested in finding out what political party they may be aligned with, research topics of foreign affairs and reasoning behind the decisions that our elected leaders have made that impact each of their own daily lives. Many of our students are lucky enough to be able to talk with family members upon returning who either lived during the 1960’s civil rights movement or the Vietnam War. It could be said that these conversations would not take place naturally without the opportunity to attend the trip to Washington, D.C. Washington D.C. is a trip that all students in this country should take at least once in their K-12 education experience. This is not a vacation for the students but a learning experience that has expectations of inspiration, American patriotism and a new appreciation for their freedom. Our advice for any schools planning a trip to Washington, D.C. is to plan purposefully and strategically by choosing opportunities that you believe are the key takeaways for your students. These takeaways either are linked to your history curriculum or peak the curiosity of your students so that they come back wanting to learn more about who they are and their place in the great experience that our forefathers embarked on over two and a half centuries ago, the United States of America.
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