Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My time as a Louisiana Explorer leader

I am very passionate about teaching (most of my former colleagues know that already!) There is nothing I like better than collaborating with others who share my Louisiana passion. My principal always knew that and always supported me in my passion.

I loved taking MY students on state wide field trips. We generally left about 6:30am and got home about 10-11pm. It generally cost $25 or less every trip. And I scheduled them once a month. My students knew how to act, how to handle themselves, plus they knew MY rules - one mess up and you were out. There where others just waiting to get into our Louisiana Explorers. We did not go to the mall, we did not o to the park, we did not have 'fun'. Except EVERY STUDENT knew what being selected for the Explorers meant.

I guess you what to know what I did and how I did it. Lets start back at the VERY  beginning. Our first trip was going to be on a 'yellow dog' - a school bus. I made plans to travel to our state capital. Cost became an object but I knew that most of the places I wanted my students to see were FREE so that help the cost a lot.

That first trip saw us tour our tall state capital - 34 floors. I had been there many times and herd all the stories. But that first trip was special. It was scheduled around the first weekend of September - the day that our former governor was shot in the back hallway. This now turned into a history lesson that they were not expecting to get.

We walked around the hallway, house and senate chambers until we got to the back hallway. At that point I began my story of the shooting of Huey Long. I told my students who was there, where his office was, Who shot him, and why.

Suddenly my students were taking lots of photos, asking hundreds of questions, wanted to know more. Suddenly I had my 25 students 'eating out of my hand' so to speak. And as the story went on, he was not even the governor at that time - he was a U.S. Senator which made the case even bigger. The story just went on and on. The doctor who treated him got his job because of a payoff to Huey. He did the work because Huey's personal doctors could not get therein time from New Orleans. Read more.

From there I took them up to the observation deck on the 27 floor. From there we looked out over the Mississippi River, and the tomb were Huey was buried, plus we walked around to look out at the current governor's mansion, and to capital lake.

From there we came back down, walked the steps, counted them, answer with there were on 48 steps since EVERY state was listed. They also looked at elevator doors and all the governors are embossed on them in order EXCEPT for Huey. Why is that?

We were done about 10am so now what? One we walked over to the pentagon barracks - the form L.S.U. campus and former government offices. From there we walked over to the river-walk area. While there we had a picnic lunch over looking the river.

By noon we were back on the road to the old state capital which is where they tried to impeach Huey while he was governor. It is now a museum and a BEAUTIFUL place. We watched a movie there, walked around, shopped at the gift shop, then went outside to do the next project. The students tend had to draw the building. They did some wonderful artwork and never complained.

From there we bused up the street to the old governor's mansion. The stories just kept on coming about Huey, what he did and how he got this house built. My students were just loving this trip. Did I have any problems. No, not a one, more on that later.

After the tour of this great house, some more drawings, lots of photos, and lots of questions, we loaded the bus for our next visit. My first 'expense'. The L.S.U. Rural Life Museum. Here it got tricky but not for me. As I 'let my students wander freely', the museum staff were terrified. It did not take long before they realized these kids were not your NORMAL middle school kids. My students suddenly stated asking how, why, where, when, went on and on. The staff was overwhelmed.

The staff had to run us out so they could close up. My students has some great stories, photos, drawings, rubbings. And this was a time before iPhones. As we re-boarded the bus about 5:30pm they knew it was time for supper but we still had at least an hour or two to go.

As my students told stories, visited, and chatted we were on our way ro our last stop - Landry's. A great seafood place near Henderson. I had planned all this out. We were seated in the back dinning room so that my students could visit, talk, and make noise, but not disturb the other guests. We got there about 7pm and left about 8:30. From there we were heading home - finally. Excited, and tired but happy.

But this is just ONE trip out of seven during the year. If you mess up and cause trouble you are not going on the next or any other trips. You see WHY I never really had problems. They WANTED to go on that last trip to New Orleans. More about that one later.

Each year I started out with 25 and only ONCE had a problem on that first trip. I planned this trip because there was nothing you could break, no problem you can get into (or so I thought), and no problem I could get into with my administration.

Generally there was me, the bus driver, and one or two parents. They loved the trips also. My one problem was a young man who did not follow directions and I made him sit by me from the new state capital to home because of his behavior. He was not happy.

As we got home the students were informed if they wanted to go the next trip I need an essay on my desk before school on Tuesday. Of course the essay was SHORT telling we what they liked about this trip, what their favorite part, what they would change, etc, etc, etc. I NEVER had to ask twice, the essays where on my desk almost before I got to school on Tuesday.

The young man....He never made another trip with me. Sure, his mother begged, complained to my principal but he never traveled with me again - my rules are MY RULES.

More on the next trip next....

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