Sunday, May 19, 2019

How it all began....

Teachers plan educational enrichment opportunity: The Chisholm Trail

by Paula Midgley

Let me tell you a little about myself and my husband, George Midgley. We love to travel - not to sit on a beach or to hang out in a resort, but instead we want to see interesting land formations, learn history about an area, and talk to the locals everywhere we go! In the last 17 years, we have visited Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Florida, Costa Rica, Cozumel, Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, South Dakota, Vermont, Massachusetts, Georgia, and are about to go to Gulf Shores, Alabama next month. Some of our experiences include parasailing in Hawaii, hiking in a Costa Rican jungle, trekking across the Mayan Ruins in Mexico, and climbing the rocky terrain of Glacier National Park in Montana. We have ziplined, rode bikes and 4-wheelers, rented Jeeps and boats, and explored the great outdoors in all seasons!

Back in December, my husband and I heard about grants that were available for teachers from Fund For Teachers. FFT is an organization that supports educators' efforts to develop their own personal skills, increase their knowledge, and boost their confidence in a way that positively impacts student achievement. This organization encourages teachers to plan their own professional development learning experience (usually involving some level of travel) and submit their plan to FFT for review - if they like the idea, FFT fully funds the adventure! 

Well, guess what? George had the idea to plan a road trip that spanned the entire stretch of the Chisholm Trail. He wanted to learn intricate details from museums, placards, and experts, plus get the opportunity to see historic landmarks in person and stand on the very grounds that millions of cattle and hundreds of cowboys (and cowgirls) traversed on the trek from San Antonio, Texas to Abilene, Kansas. Since my husband is a middle school social studies teacher, this is an era covered in his textbooks so he was particularly interested in learning more about it.  As a Family and Consumer Science (used to be called Home Ec) teacher, I was interested in learning about open range cast iron cooking and food preparation methods used during the cattle drive days; therefore, we put our two subject areas together to plan a cross-curricular learning expedition.

On January 31, 2019 we submitted our grant proposal to FFT who uses selection committees from all around the United States to help them determine which proposals will be funded, the committee for our area was Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence (OFE). On April 4th, we received an email telling us that our professional development idea (valued at $9163) was a winning proposal! We cannot even begin to tell you how excited we were to learn that OFE reviewed 87 proposals and only recommended 27 of them to be funded.  Teachers in metropolitan areas were awarded every single grant except the one for my husband and I.  We teach at a very small rural school in Southeast Oklahoma with a total of a little more than 400 kids from Pre-K to 12th grade.  Being included in an elite group such as this feels like a really huge accomplishment!

Our Chisholm Trail Expedition will begin after we get back from our vacation (June 3-7) to Orange Beach, Alabama.  We will embark on our road trip as we leave our hometown of Poteau, Oklahoma and travel to San Antonio where our learning adventures kick off at the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, South Texas Heritage Center, and the Menger Hotel.  Watch for the next blog where we will post pictures and begin telling the fabulous tale of the greatest migration of animals in the United States, the Chisholm Trail.

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