New perspective

Published 11:41 pm Friday, November 20, 2009

“If you think burglary and robbery are the same, raise your hand.”

About five King’s Fork High School students raised their hands in response to the query by Joan Jones, a member of the Suffolk Police Department’s crime scene investigation unit.

Jones pressed on.

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“If you think burglary and robbery are not the same, raise your hand.” Most of the remaining students complied.

“If you think, ‘Mrs. Jones, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, raise your hand,’” Jones said. Two students raised their hands, to a round of laughter from their classmates.

The answer, of course, is that robbery and burglary are not the same crime. That was a lesson many students at King’s Fork learned throughout the day Friday during the school system’s “Educator for a Day” program.

The program invited community leaders into the schools to conduct an entire day of classes on subjects of expertise — whether it was their career, hobby or personal experiences.

Down the hall from the chemistry classroom where Jones was teaching, students arrived at their history classroom to find a Suffolk couple there. Col. Scott Brown, a U.S. Joint Forces Command employee, and his wife Tanya Brown were ready to tell the students about their son, Samuel. Captain Samuel Brown was severely wounded when his vehicle was attacked in Afghanistan. Another passenger was killed.

“I think it’s good for people out in the community to visit the schools and speak to the students,” Tanya Brown said. Her husband shared his own experiences as a career military man, while Tanya Brown used photos to take students through the personal story of their son’s injury and recovery process.

“Could you do what their son did?” queried history teacher Alexis Gibbs at the end of the Browns’ presentation. Some students nodded; others shook their heads.

Gibbs said the program helps students relate to life beyond high school.

“Not only is it something different, I like that it gives them that firsthand experience,” Gibbs said. “I think that’s hopefully inspiring to them.”

Back in Amanda Griffin’s chemistry classroom, Jones invited students to the whiteboard to touch it, then dusted the surface for fingerprints. With classroom lights off and a blue light on, students looked through orange filters to see the fingerprints.

“It was really cool,” Madison Moore said. “It was good to see the experience of real life stuff compared to what you see on TV.”

Griffin said the program proves that the oft-repeated student saying, “We’ll never use this in real life,” is false.

“It’s an opportunity for them to really see that what they’re learning in the classroom can be applied to certain careers.”