At Rustic Pathways, we feel grateful each and every day to work with amazing teachers who go above and beyond to share a new way of learning with their students. To continue our Teacher Appreciation Week 2020 series, we are highlighting two teachers that acknowledge how valuable learning outside the classroom is for their students and the importance of developing a global perspective.
Here is a quote from Rebecca and Jason that demonstrates how they go the extra mile for their students.
Rebecca Laders and Jason Musselman have been running trips with Rustic since 2015 with Cheongna Dalton School in Incheon, South Korea.
Education is not something that belongs trapped within the four walls of our classrooms. We believe that these trips are incredibly valuable for the development or our students. Service learning and cultural immersion allows them to see and experience the world around them in life changing ways. Rustic not only helps plan and execute great trips, but they also help facilitate our students personal growth throughout the journey. Through trips like these our students develop a valuable aspect of our schools mission: becoming a global citizen. Also, it is great to see our highly stressed students let their hair down and be their authentic selves. On Rustic trips we always have a lot of fun together, and we look forward to them every year!
Since beginning trips with Rustic we have gone on four trips to three different locations in Cambodia and Thailand. These trips are easily the highlight of our year and really enhance our relationships with our students. COVID-19 has been a real downer because we haven’t been able to really share experiences with our students beyond our computer screens. Our trip this year was just about a month or so before our school campus closed. While the last few months seem to be a blur, the experiences we shared and relationships we built seem as clear as the day we left!
Our favorite part of these trips are being able to present our students with a whole new experience, and we love seeing them grab that opportunity, and really run with it. Last year the group had the option to go play in the pool and hang out at the hotel, or stay behind at our worksite and play with the kids. About 90 percent of our students chose to stay behind and interact with the kids. We, as teachers, were so inspired and impressed as it ran counter to what we thought they would have chosen. Seeing them smile, play soccer and engage with the kids they had served not only impacted our students but also how we as teachers viewed them.
Getting the chance to build great relationships with students by being our own authentic selves is another thing we love. During the school year we have a lot on our plate and building strong relationships often comes second. It is through these trips that we are again reminded of the power of these connections. It is amazing to share laughter and tell jokes that continue to bring us together well beyond our return to “normal life.”
We have already started planning things for next year and hopefully will be able to offer two trips for our students! In chats with our student leaders, they brought up that a smaller group might be better for organization and service. Bringing the students in on this planning has been extremely instrumental. Raising student voices and building leadership has really made this trip a long lasting tradition here at Dalton. We even have some students who are looking forward to their THIRD trip!
We are honored to be recognized by Rustic in this spotlight and hope others take advantage of these incredible opportunities for their students!
-Rebecca Laders and Jason Musselman