For my first week of Summer vacation, I got the privilege to spend it with 11 other Central students in Immokalee, Florida. We went on an Alternative Break for the issue of education. Being a future educator, I was thrilled when I got into the break at 7:30 am. From there on out, we had weekly meetings talking about the problems education as whole faces. We talked about problems like bullying and socioeconomic status’. I got to know the people in my group really well along with my amazing site leaders, Kayla and JB.
After the many weeks preparing for the trip, we headed out of Mt. P. around 10:15 pm. There were two minivans that everyone had to take turns driving a six-hour shift in. I drove through Michigan as well as some of Ohio, and I did a pretty good job (besides hitting a raccoon…). After 24 hours of driving through states, we finally got to Immokalee where we all decided to sleep in one room together. There were tons of bunk beds lined up all around the room for people to take. I was super thankful to have that room together, I got to know my group on a more personal level because of it.
Going into the week, I was expecting a school that was run down and on the poorer side of the schools I’ve seen. Rolling up to the school and looking at the building, those thoughts completely vanished. We walked in and received our daily schedule for the week and a map of the entire school. I was placed in 2-5 grade classrooms as well as a music classroom.
Before coming on this trip, I was considering switching my major from Elementary Education. Being in the classroom for five days assured me that education was what I was most passionate about. Highland combined my passion for education with my passion for leadership. Their school was built solely on the Seven Habits of Leadership. One day of the week, they had a Leadership Day where people from the community could come see the great things happening in the school.
We had a day where the group did school beautification. We painted ceiling tiles, we painted signs, and I blew balloons they would use for Leadership Day. The quote I put on my ceiling tile is from the Disney movie, UP. I decided to paint that specific quote on there because I believe adventure is out there for everyone whether that be for people who don’t know what they want to do in life, or for people who do.
After our school day was over, we got to relax by the pool or on the beach. We got to see dolphins, gators, jellyfish, sea urchins, and star fish on the beach. One day we went to Ft. Myers and the others we went to Naples beach. Getting to splash around in the ocean with 11 other people was a lot of fun. It grew people closer together which I absolutely loved about the trip as a whole.
I would love to thank my group for making the week enjoyable for me. I know I have 11 people who have got my back if I ever needed anything. I would also like to thank my site leaders, Kayla and JB for making my first AB one for the books. Lastly, I want to thank Highland Elementary. Like I said before, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a teacher anymore coming into this trip. Being in the classrooms at the school was what I needed to move forward with my college career. Seeing the looks on the kid’s faces when I would walk into the room made my entire week worthwhile. The staff was also super friendly and willing to answer all of my questions. If anyone ever gets the chance to go on an Alternative Break, do it. It makes you grow not only as a person but as a leader.