Focus on Education – Being There Experiences

By: Kima Hayuk, Brisbane Elementary School District Board Trustee, khayuk@brisbanesd.org

Being There Experiences

By: Kima Hayuk, Brisbane Elementary School District Board Trustee, khayuk@brisbanesd.org

It’s that time of the school year where we’re all looking ahead to summer break and taking stock of the school year that is coming to a close. It’s a great time to reflect on one very important aspect of Brisbane School District’s mission to help students to be thoughtful, prepared and engaged citizens. That’s the District’s “Being There Experiences.”
The Brisbane School District feels very strongly about the educational benefits of taking our students to locations off of our campuses and away from our classrooms to enhance ourstudents’ educational experience. The main purpose of owning and operating a school bus is so that our students are able to have these experiences.
The district has approximately 60 field trips per year, which translates to one trip every three days across all grades. Our teachers are the driving force in organizing Being There Experiences, often spending many hours planning and also fundraising to cover the costs of the trips. Being There Experiences are thoughtfully planned to maximize educational value by making learning relevant and sparking engagement.
Graduates of the district often cite Being There Experiences as some of their most memorable moments of their time in the district and some of the trips have become beloved traditions as successive siblings in families participate in these exciting experiences. Nevertheless, different trips, including some that families were anticipating are sometimes discontinued. Often escalating costs require reconsideration of the ratio of cost to educational value. Some trips are closely associated with particular educators and when there are personnel changes in the district, the motivating force of the older trip may be replaced by a new teacher’s inspiration for another experience.
“Being There Experiences” focus on curriculum relevant destinations that are often educational institutions such as museums or historical sites as well as natural areas which can tie in educational material for earth sciences or biology. The diversity of experiences is broad with just a sample of destinations including the SF Marine Institute, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, the San Jose Tech Museum, the Exploratorium, Children’s Creativity Museum, the San Francisco Zoo, the South San Francisco Scavenger Facility, Pie Ranch, Hidden Villa Farm, Sanchez Adobe, Pillar Point Harbor, Angel Island, Oakland Museum, Randall Museum, CuriOdyssey, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Tour of San Francisco, Outdoor Education, Woodside Store, Lawrence Hall of Science, Folger Stables, Los Trancos Open Space Preserve, Herbst Theater, Hiller Aviation Museum, San Mateo County History Museum, UC Berkeley, Mills College, Monterey Bay Aquarium. In the 2018 – 2019 school year, students also went on two overnight trips, one to the historic Gold Rush town of Columbia and the other a rafting adventure. And last but not least, the 8th grade goes to Great America at the end of the school year.
All in all, it’s an impressive testament to our district’s teachers, staff and parent chaperones in organizing such valuable “Being There Experiences’ for our students. However, this year, the district’s emphasis on off-campus learning has even extended to the district’s teachers and staff! As the result a generous grant, the district was able to arrange for the entire staff to visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles in a two day visit that included a day at the museum and a day of anti-bias curriculum and training. Almost everyone attended and the trip was seen as so valuable that grant proposals are being written again for this year.
The district will continue to look for ways to expand their offerings of “Being There Experiences” and staff are always evaluating the educational benefit of existing trips and looking for new opportunities. At the March School Board meeting, the purchase of a new school bus was approved with an eye towards many more educational trips and memorable experiences for years to come. Being There Experiences are a critical part of the Brisbane School District’s mission in serving our community of learners!