“Are We There Yet?” BFA Fairfax 8th Grade Flexible Learning Experience in Boston

On April 20 and 21, the BFA-Fairfax eighth grade team boarded two coach buses for two days of learning and laughter in Boston, Massachusetts.  

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In my seventeen-year career as a principal, I have never ventured out of state with students.  This experience made a profound impact on me and reinforced the importance of creating learning experiences that challenge and enhance students’ worldviews and perspectives.

Our students had the opportunity to learn about the history of Boston, visit important landmarks of the American Revolution on the Freedom Trail, explore a wide variety of exhibits at the Museum of Science and the New England Aquarium, and take in an IMAX movie and a Duck Boat tour. Less tangibly, but of equal or greater importance, was everything that students learned as they walked the city of Boston and spent a night away from their home in a city filled with scientific and historical wonders.  

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We were privileged to watch students navigate the city, experience awe at its architecture and vibrancy, and overcome anxiety about being away from home. An unanticipated — but fortuitous — outcome was the dynamic connection with parents and staff through Facebook.  Rhonda Siemons, our technology integrationist, created a closed group on Facebook that allowed us, at last count, to engage 100 parents, students, staff, and community members with updates of our travels — texts, images, and videos.  

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We received so much positive feedback and appreciation from parents about being able to follow along and comment on this trip. Thank you to the Fairfax/Fletcher community for supporting this experience.  We are confident that it was time and money well-spent. The learning and experiences created memories that will last a lifetime.  

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Thanks to Dana Hamm, Ben Psaros, Melody Wilkins, Ashley Barnes-Cota, Nicole Wehman, Chris Palmer, and Sally Billado for all their time and hard work to make this trip the profound success that it was.  We were so proud of our students and staff for their positivity and willingness to take a risk and engage in such a unique learning experience.   We are all so grateful to have had this opportunity.  

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Special thanks to Principal Tom Walsh and Principal Intern Chris Palmer for co-authoring this story.

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