By: Elise Phillips Margulis
Take It Out is a new program at the Chester M. Stephens Elementary School that allows students to visit different businesses and learn about them by performing tasks. The program enables students to understand how their education relates to their future careers.
Ann Scotland, a teacher at Chester M. Stephens, described how the initiative was conceived. She and Principal Moore were “reflect[ing] on some of last year’s lessons that left an immediate imprint on the hearts and minds of our students. The experiences that came to mind were the second grade Kindness Tour, the School Wide Cultural Night, the third grade ShopRite visit, the Kdg mystery community helpers and the fifth grade Treps Market Place to name a few. Each one of those moments offered a final piece to the puzzle of the ‘why’ behind our learning. Each unique moment gave a completed picture for our boys and girls of what school can offer them.”
The process of choosing which students go on each trip is as follows. Third to fifth graders are invited to “apply” for the job. They fill out an application and submit it to their homeroom teacher. The job winners are chosen via a lottery drawing and one student from each class goes. Fifteen students are included on each trip. Some students apply to all the trips. Others applied to the businesses that interested them. Some children didn’t apply to any of the outings.
The monthly Take It Out trips began in October 2018. So far students have been to the Mt. Olive Library, the Mt. Olive Police Station, WRNJ Radio Station, Chili’s Restaurant, Das Creamery and Ashley’s Farm. In June the participants will get together to discuss what they learned during their visits to the businesses.
Here are some of the tasks the students participated in: At the library they read to younger visitors and checked out books. While visiting the police station they listened to “mock cases” and wrote up reports. The students also used the police radar to check the speed of cars. At WRNJ Radio they worked the equipment and wrote commercials with Mr. Dave Kelber encouraging community members to share in the Kindness Tour. At Chili’s they prepared dishes and practiced taking orders from the computer screen as well as serving food. When they were at Das Creamery they made their own ice cream, took orders and served the ice cream. They learned about irrigation, how to operate machines to drill holes, planting and watering seeds, how to plant lettuce (supply and demand) and about raising turkeys at Ashley’s Farms.
The students became very motivated as their book learning transformed into real life actions. Scotland noted that the children are extremely enthusiastic when “everything comes alive off the pages of a book and becomes real.” The objective was to expand the classroom into the community. The students benefit immeasurably when they understand how school directly impacts their future and realize why their education is so important.
Scotland explained, “We want our boys and girls ’future ready’ and to offer them the ‘why’ behind his/her learning. The Mount Olive Community is a great resource for our children to learn from. There are many talented people that can demonstrate the framework of what skills and tools are needed when serving others. The students enjoy utilizing their academics on the trips.”
The students’ reaction to Take It Out has been very positive. Sara Halter gushed, “the trip to Ashley Farms was a lot of fun. I loved it! My favorite part was getting to plant the herbs in the green house and also the seeds. I was surprised to learn that turkeys can be separated so quickly after birth, since they will only be 14 hours old when they get to the farm.” Logan Marangon said, “I learned a lot at the police station. I never knew that the police officers had to write so many reports. They have to be really good writers and be able to include all the key details in their reports. I think CMS should keep doing Take It Out. It was so fun to go there and it was really educational. I would definitely tell my friends to apply”.
The businesses that host these visits were happy to customize the experiences to ensure the children were assigned age appropriate tasks. Each business worked hard to guarantee that the children learned what it was like to work for them and which skills were required.
Scotland noted that “Each business offered a unique experience that connects back to school. Clarity was provided for the boys and girls as to why they need to learn the many different subject matters throughout the school day. They are becoming ‘future ready’ as they prepare their minds with skills that will be of service in life. We are so grateful for this added motivation. Everything comes full circle and connects the importance of his/her education.”
Scotland wants to thank the businesses that welcomed the students to their establishments. The teachers, students and parents are all grateful to the generous businesses that participated in Take It Out. They donated supplies, time and their expertise. If there are other businesses that would like to partner with the school for the 2019-2020 school year, they can contact either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to make a difference and inspire students.
Scotland summed up the students’ invaluable experience. “The students get to see and share in the collaboration among employees. In that moment they get a taste of the business’ vision, plan out what to do, implement skills and assess the experience with Mr. Moore. They also witness how great character and kindness completes the picture. It is magical.”