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Educational Summer Travel: Ford’s Theater, Freedom Foundations, and More

Let’s learn from a teacher who found travel grants to see historic sites around the United States!

Teaching Traveling: Megan, tell us a bit about your background. 

Fort Loudoun in Winchester, VA.
Fort Loudoun in Winchester, VA.

Megan: My name is Megan Hall, and I am 31 years old and I am currently teaching at Wayne Trail Elementary in Maumee, Ohio. This is my 10th year of teaching. I have always wanted to be a teacher, and luckily I really did end up loving it.

I graduated from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio focused in grades 4-9.  I also have my Masters Degree from Bowling Green State University in classroom technology. I worked in a couple of different schools before landing my job with Maumee. I have lived in the Toledo, Ohio area almost my whole life and I have just recently begun my traveling teacher adventures.

President Lincoln’s Box at Ford’s Theater In Washington DC.
President Lincoln’s Box at Ford’s Theater In Washington DC.

TT: Nice! Tell us about the educational travels you’ve done. 

M: In three short summers, I have gotten to travel to many great places and I have learned so much. My first trip was with Ford’s Theater to Washington DC. This is one of my most important trips because it is the one that sparked my interest.

I originally applied because a former coworker had done it and told me I should apply.  To my amazement, I was accepted into the program. During this program, I went to Ford’s theater, Frederick Douglass’s house, Lincoln’s Cottage, Tudor Place, a nighttime walk on the National Mall, a “Hunt for Lincoln’s Killer” tour and so much more.

Boston Tea Party Museum in Boston, Massachusetts
At the Boston Tea Party Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

I also met a few wonderful teachers who had traveled all over the country and world with different programs and I got the opportunity to discuss their travels with them. This was my first time traveling alone and I had to force myself out of my bubble in order to really learn from this opportunity. The next summer, I traveled to Los Angeles, Boston, and Saratoga.

This past summer I got to travel on a teacher tour of Colonial Williamsburg, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and Ligonier, PA. Colonial Williamsburg was one of the most influential places that I have been to. We stayed within walking distance to Colonial Williamsburg. We did tours of the shops and trade stores, as well as interactive activities such as tending to tobacco plants and sawing wood. We spent time participating in activities that we could bring back into the classroom.

The site of the Boston Massacre.
The site of the Boston Massacre.

One of the greatest activities that we did was seeing the different interpreters that came to speak to us. They portrayed a specific person from the past and were experts on that person. While they talked to us they stayed completely in character and at the end, they would leave and come back in to talk to us as themselves.

It was amazing to hear them portray these people and to hear about how much work they did to truly understand their person. Each night we had activities to enjoy such as pirate trials, witch trials, a breakout room, and ghost walks. I had a great time and learned so much to bring back to my classroom and fellow teachers.

Freedom Foundations group trip to celebrate the Fourth of July in Philadelphia.
Freedom Foundations group trip to celebrate the Fourth of July in Philadelphia.

TT: Wow! How do you find these travel opportunities? 

M: When I did my first trip a few summers ago I met a woman who had traveled all over the world with different organizations. She invited me to the facebook group, Scholarships, Grants and Summer Institutes for Teachers. This is where I hear about most of the teacher scholarships and grants that I have taken part in or have applied for. On the trips, I have been on I always meet people who share about the experiences they have had or heard about, so I usually leave with a new travel interest.

An original notebook page from Issac Newton
An original notebook page from Issac Newton.

TT: Brilliant. How did you find the money to fund your travel?

M: I try and apply for opportunities that are fully funded or mostly funded. You can also look at this list of 200 teacher travel grants, or these 24 opportunities for free travel for teachers. Further, I take a little bit of money out of each paycheck and have it put into my savings account to cover extra expenses or to pay for parts of the trip that may not be covered by the organization.

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA.
At the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA.

TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.

M: One moment that was particularly powerful was a stop on a traveling trip that I did with Freedom Foundations that actually had nothing to do with the topic we were studying. We were doing a trip on the French and Indian War and we talked a bit about the Revolutionary War as we traveled from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

We were going to be near the sight of the Flight 93 crash that occurred on September 11, 2001.  They added it to our schedule as one of our stops. I was 12 when this event happened and I remember it very well. As a kid, it took me a few days to process what actually happened. This was the first 9/11 memorial that I had been to and you could tell the effect it had on everyone.

We were a group of very talkative people who had spent a couple of days together and usually traveled in groups to each place that we went to. Without even realizing it we were all silent and moving at our own speed. We did not talk about our memories or about the artifacts that were there, we simply moved through the museum and the crash site taking it all in.

Benjamin Frankin Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts.
Benjamin Frankin Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts.

During lunch that day we finally began talking about our feelings and experiences. Being there was so powerful.  Seeing the artifacts and seeing the actual crash site had me in tears. We will never forget about 9/11 but we do sometimes focus more on the people involved in the tower and Pentagon attack that we overlook how important the people on Flight 93 were to that day. It also showed me how truly dedicated the Freedom Foundation is to history and making these trips the best for us.

This stop had nothing to do with our topic, however, it was so critical to us as teachers and people to be able to go there and experience that. I will truly never forget being there that morning. I am also able to teach that to my students on September 11th with the first-hand experience of being there and by having pictures that allow my students to be there as well.

TT: So powerful. How have your travels impacted you in your career, and as a person?

M: As a person and a teacher, these trips have changed me so much. As a teacher I can be outgoing with my students, however, I am different around my peers. I would never have been the one to take a trip by myself let alone with people I don’t know. I applied for my first trip thinking nothing would come of it and then when I got in I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

These trips have forced me to step outside of my comfort zone. I have learned to strike up conversations with people in order to form connections with them and make the most out of my experiences. I have even met some people that have become friends. I’m more independent and willing to go to more places by myself.

I have also learned a lot from the people I have met on my trips. The experts who I have gotten to work with have given me resources and ideas that I can bring back to my classroom and my school. The other teachers on my trips have allowed me to share my ideas with new people and get new ideas for my classroom. I have connections to teachers all over the country that I can contact if I need something and people to meet up with if I’m in their area.

Marquis de Lafayette at Colonial Williamsburg.
Marquis de Lafayette at Colonial Williamsburg.

TT: Well said. What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel? 

M: One of my biggest pieces of advice is to be willing to take chances. If you have a teacher friend that wants to apply with you and you both get in that is great, however, don’t be afraid to apply and go on a trip alone. If you are open-minded you will meet new people and always have something interesting to do. If you always travel with someone that you know you may miss out on opportunities.

The Facebook group Scholarships, Grants, and Summer Institutes for Teachers is a big help to me in finding workshops to apply for. Once you get into a workshop make sure to talk to other people about their experiences and what they have done. Talking to people has given me ideas on new places to apply to as well as getting me really excited about some of the programs that I intend to apply for.

My final piece of advice is to take in your experiences. It does not matter how tired you are if someone suggests wanting to do an extra activity in the evening take that chance. You may not get the opportunity again why not take every chance you get. I have even gone to a place before a trip to meet up with people to get even more exploring in.

Thanks so much, Megan! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?

 

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Megan

Wednesday 5th of May 2021

Thank you so much for letting me a part of this!

Lillie Marshall

Wednesday 5th of May 2021

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story of teaching and traveling!

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