Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during a recent field trip to Washington, D.C., by the King’s Fork High School DECA Club are, kneeling, Fletcher Stephens; second row, Nicholas Womack, Robert Wilson, Lisa Quinn, Olena Dzuibko and Kyla Gentry-Spears; third row, Tiffany Lewis, Richard Quinn and Afonso Lechugo-Isaac; and back row, Deborah Nystrom and Done't Freeman.

Archived Story

Field trips ‘not easy’

Published 10:58pm Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nine King’s Fork High School students, members of the school’s DECA Club, had the power trip of their lives earlier this month on a field trip to Washington. But the trip didn’t come easy for them.

The trip from Nov. 16-18 involved “Amazing Race”-type activities with student groups completing “a series of tasks, each presenting an entrepreneurial trait,” marketing and entrepreneur teacher Lisa Quinn wrote in an email. Against the backdrop of the national capital’s stirring monuments and famous museums, students participated in career workshops, networked with experts in marketing, tourism and other fields and participated in a team decision-making competition.

But Quinn, who came to Suffolk Public Schools from another district a little over two years ago, said it wasn’t so easy getting approval from administrators for the fully club-funded trip.

“I came from Newport News. There they called me the field trip queen — we’d go on a field trip every month,” Quinn said.

She wrote that she modified the field trip application after “it was brought to my attention that the School Board may not approve the trip if students had to pay the registration fee.”

According to district records, parents of public school students in Suffolk pay mostly nothing for field trips, and sometimes small fees such as $10.

There are exceptions, such as Nansemond River High’s competitive performing arts team’s trip to a Virginia Theatre Association Conference in Northern Virginia, which cost $400 per student. The team raised the money through various avenues, including an admission-by-donation performance.

The month of that excursion, October, saw about 168 field trips, while September had 87; most were sports-related.

The cost to the district varies according to the nature, destination and duration of the field trip, district Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Chavis wrote in an email. “The division prefers trips that are little to no cost for parents, as well as local locations,” she wrote.

“The criteria for administrators evaluating any field trip request include events that are aligned and support the curriculum, activities that provide service to the community, and/or trips that reinforce and provide enrichment, such as competitive opportunities.

“The KFHS DECA trip supports the local and state curriculum and provides hands-on, enriching, real-world application that enhances student learning.”

The King’s Fork High students rounded out their field trip with a night tour of Washington’s sights.

Quinn said the experience showed students how marketing can be a viable career path. She says she will continue organizing field trips, despite the rigmarole.

“It’s a lot of work and it’s very stressful, and I don’t think it needs to be,” she said.

Quinn also wrote, “One of the best experiences students can have is outside the four walls of our schools experiencing curriculum in real-world settings.

“When teachers find it so difficult to arrange for field trips, they find it very discouraging and nearly impossible to fit into an already demanding schedule. It is a shame that more students are not experiencing the opportunities made available to them, especially classes and groups where there is no financial burden on the district to allow these field trips to occur.”

  • TB_suffolklady

    If parents/students are willing to pay for the trip, there is no reason that Suffolk should deny the trip. Most curriculums, DECA, marketing, the arts, etc., have no merit if the students do not go outside the classroom.

    Interestingly, SPS approves every sporting event and pays tens of thousands into their athletics. But do these teachers who go above and beyond get paid? NO. NEVER. Suffolk’s priorities are screwed up to say the least. And it starts at the top.

    Suggest Removal

  • knjnbnmng

    It is all about who you know in Suffolk. The hires and the freedoms allowed to certain people are a great example of this. it takes a teacher like this who will go above and beyond to get things approved that the district needs. Sometimes the district forgets what is good for the students and only focuses on the negatives.

    Suggest Removal

    • am

      There are MANY teachers who go above and beyond to try and deliver a meaningful, relevant field trip for their students, even to the point of paying for it themselves. But still SPS denies it. SPS establish an HONEST policy for field trips and make it MORE TRANSPARENT than what is currently being done. You can expect field trip requests now to be coming from others in the system. I bet the SNH will continue to investigate this.

      Suggest Removal

      • mcdb

        AM is right! For years I tried to take my class (usually around 30 kids) on a field trip. I was going to pay for the admission and the bus. I was told ‘no’ unless I would pay for the other classes on my grade level to go.

        Suggest Removal

      • suffolklady

        The club field trip that was denied last year was going to be paid for by the students as well. Still denied. I absolutely agree that there needs to be a straightforward and honest policy about field trips.

        Suggest Removal

  • RobertEStephens

    A debt of gratitude and thanks is owed to Mrs. Quinn for her tenacity, resilience and commitment to help broaden students’ horizons through the DECA experience. She is commended for her courage to get beyond the myopic mind-set about exposed students to events and experiences beyond the classroom and sports activities, and certainly beyond Suffolk. Hopefully, teachers and administrators will become more open-minded about the need for students to be well-rounded and better prepared to strive and succeed in the global community. Sports and performing arts certainly have their appropriate place in students’ extracurricular activities; however, helping students understand interconnectedness and interdependence is an imperative to success and survival in a global community. Parents, Teachers, Administrators…let’s make [development] field trips the norm and not the exception! Thank you, Mrs. Quinn for your commitment, persistence and vision!

    Suggest Removal

    • am

      There have been many highly relevant and highly instructional field trips that have been denied for reasons never stated. To say NOW that trips should include “events that are aligned and support the curriculum” flies in the face of the denial of trips for several years at all grade levels. (One example being the traditional fourth grade trip to Jamestown – what is NOT instructional about that?)The only trips SPS has been allowing for the past few years are sports teams, competitions, and a few trips (Farm Day or something at the Cultural Arts Center) within Suffolk.

      Suggest Removal

      • suffolklady

        Agreed, am. And I know of a field trip that was denied last year because it was for a club. It’s interesting that this group was allowed to go to D.C. and the other group was not allowed to go a few miles across town.

        Suggest Removal

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