A few weeks ago, PS 771K Principal Denise D'Anna and Assistant Principals Dr. Keisha McCoy-Dailey, Vinnette Ferrandino, Christina Punturieri, and Nancy Storms, had an idea for a student field trip to the American Museum of Natural History.
If they could put it off, it would be the first field trip for many of their D75 students.
And that's why close to 500 students, many of them disabled or with other special needs, and dozens of teachers and staff from eight District 75 schools across Brooklyn climbed aboard 32 buses on Wednesday, Nov. 29 for a morning of study at the massive museum on Manhattan's upper west side.
There were laughs aplenty as the student groups moved about the museum, but McCoy-Dailey said make no mistake, learning was happening as well.
"We have a curriculum, 'Passport for Social Studies,' that we are using this year that came from the chancellor and was implemented for standardized and alternate students," McCoy-Daily said as students studied the Hall of Eastern Woodland Indians exhibits. "We have been studying Native Americans, so that's why we came to this section. We're connecting textbook knowledge and tasks to real life experience."
"We're giving them the real ife experience of coming to the museum like you, me or any other student can come to."
Each child has a special shirt to identify his or her group and a folder with team activities they had to complete in the museum.
"This really was a team effort," Storms said. "The staff was really incredible. Everyone pitched in, from our teaches to our paraprofessionals to our service providers. Everybody is here, even our school aides and our crisis team."
Not that moving 500 students is easy, especially when the effort includes hauling wheelchairs, scooters and bringing lunch for everyone.
Ferrandino met with Museum officials to be sure they could handle the crowd. D'Anna also invited many of the DOE officials, including Chancellor Carmen Farina, who greeted the children as they toured the building.
"This is a great thing," said P771K Teacher Erika Ingram. "Our students need to have this opportunity to experience what this real world is, and to tie in what we do in the classroom to what's going on right now. It's important for them to be able to make those connections. Seeing it in real time is what this is all about."
"I have been dying to get my students to come on this trip for a while," said P771 STEM teacher Kareem Hagazi. "The students can get a hands-on and visual approach to what we're doing in the classroom on a trip like this.nReading about it in a book is one thing, but seeing the actual weapons they used and clothing and carvings, you can see the impact it has on these students' faces."