By Howard Clemens
Lori Imrecke, a popular teacher whose approach to her profession is innovative and fun, is an Economics instructor at Byron Nelson High School in Texas. She’s also a sponsor of the school’s Snow, Ski, and Snowboard Club, and an avid proponent and organizer of student travel.
Students Travel From Different Schools
Recently, she took her students on a tour of New York City. “I like to take the kids on trips that expose them to things they wouldn’t normally see,” Imrecke says. “They leave suburban Texas and enter into a whole new world.” This particular excursion was unique because students from other area schools were involved. Imrecke put the word out about the trip, and got a great response from other teachers who wanted their students to be involved. “A lot of the kids didn’t really know each other, so they made a lot of new friends on this trip,” Imrecke says. “There was a lot of great conversation and sharing of individual experiences.”
Visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
The group’s objective as a whole was to see as many sites in NYC as possible. “We visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” says Imrecke. “I had gone before, but seeing it through the students’ eyes made it a whole new experience for me.” Many of the exhibits correlated with the students’ particular fields of study or interest. “Some of the kids were studying photography,” Imrecke says, “So they were interested in those displays. Others wanted to see the Egyptian exhibit. One student was in a state of culture shock everywhere he went. Everything we saw was amazing to him!”
A Visit to the 911 Memorial
One of the most important visits the group made was to the 9/11 Memorial. “For the kids, it was eye-opening,” Imrecke says. “They all remembered 9/11 happening, but they were too young at the time to really grasp the significance of it. The visit to the site made it real for them.” The tour guide, who had lived in the city at the time, also shared her stories with the group. “One of the students took a photo of the memorial, and it was entered into a contest to be displayed at the Capitol,” Imrecke says. “It didn’t ultimately make it in to the exhibit, but it was a very powerful experience for her.”
The group also visited Wall Street, and took the boat over to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. This segment was of particular interest to the American History students. “The cool thing about Ellis Island was that they already had a background knowledge of it,” says Imrecke. “They were in awe of the statue, and seeing it really brought it to life. It was a perfect day.” The group toured NYC’s financial district and the Federal Reserve Bank. “I wanted the students to get some insights on the Federal Reserve and how it works,” says Imrecke. The students had a lot of questions for the tour guide, and appeared to be learning from other students’ questions. “They took us down into the vaults,” says Imrecke. “Getting to see all that gold in one room was astonishing to them.”
Visits to Other Sites of Interest to Student Groups in NYC
The itinerary had a lot of cultural variety. “We spent time in places like Chinatown, and went to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. The museum was a blast! The kids loved it because they could be goofy and take pictures of the wax celebrities. It fed right into their views on pop culture.” The tour also featured a Broadway musical, The Lion King, which was thrilling for the music students in the group. “They found it so fascinating,” Imrecke says. “This was really the number one iconic New York experience I wanted them to have. In fact, it was so great that we’re in the process of working out the logistics of another trip to NYC.”
Imrecke loved watching the students’ faces as they experienced Times Square and other NYC landmarks for the first time. “I wanted the kids to get as comprehensive an idea of NYC as possible, to experience the hustle and bustle of New York,” she said, “and I really feel that was accomplished. It’s a lot of work to organize a tour, but it’s so worth it. I would recommend it to every teacher.”
Education is not what it used to be. No longer does learning need to be confined solely to the classroom. Supplemental curriculum like student travel can open up new horizons and introduce students to a brand new world of interactive learning. When they can experience the world hands-on, their knowledge of subject matter is enriched and expanded.