Sarasota County Schools teachers on an EdExploration at Patriot Plaza

Two for One: EdExploreSRQ and Patriot Plaza

Posted on November 06, 2018 by Tracy Prince, K–8 Social Studies Program Specialist, Sarasota County Schools
Two for One: Middle School Teachers Experience First Hand EdExploreSRQ Explorations at Patriot Plaza and University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Sarasota County school teachers were able to participate in an amazing opportunity in September. Eighth-grade science and civics teachers from around the district were gearing up to prepare their students for a unique experience which is a result of a collaboration between the local community and Sarasota County Schools. Honor, Inspire, and Embrace: Inspiring 8th graders to embrace civic and environmental service is an experience that provides students with a chance to learn about civic participation through Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at Twin Lakes Park.

On September 21, Sarasota teachers gathered at Sarasota Middle School to begin their journey — an experience that their students will participate in during the 2018–2019 school year. Teachers were greeted by docents at Patriot Plaza who discussed the significance of the Patriot Plaza and the sacrifices of the service men and women and their families as well as the symbolism of the art installations. Through moving stories and images, civics and science teachers experienced the three themes of Patriot Plaza – Honor Veterans, Inspire Patriotism, Embrace Freedom.

Our journey continued as teachers were transported to the University of Florida’s IFAS at Twin Lakes Park to learn about the nitrogen cycle and how natural events and human activity impact it. Teachers moved between three stations to learn specialized content that impact our local community. Students will be participating in a related service learning project at their schools to demonstrate what civic responsibility looks like through a scientific lens.

Teachers then journeyed back to Sarasota Middle School to reflect on the experience as they enjoyed lunch provided by The Patterson Foundation. The Sarasota Middle School media center was abuzz with ideas as the teachers finished their day by examining instructional materials with pre-visit and post-visit activities for each venue. School teams also created implementation plans that they can share with participating teachers at their schools.

The teachers appreciated having the opportunity to participate in this workshop. Barbara Stockford, a science teacher from McIntosh Middle School commented, “I was so impressed by the knowledge and professionalism of our guides and teachers. The photos and artwork at Patriot Plaza were inspirational, emotionally moving, and informative.”

Jeremy Sensenig, civics teacher from McIntosh Middle School said, “It was great to get a chance to preview this exciting opportunity for all our eighth graders.”

On the post-workshop survey, teachers also offered the following comments:

“So glad to be able to experience the trip from a student’s perspective before the trip.”

“Very informative and provided great resources for how to connect the field trip to the classroom.”

“I really enjoyed the volunteers at Patriot Plaza. As a veteran who has lost friends in combat, I am overjoyed that this is offered for students.”

Grateful this opportunity is possible for our Sarasota County teachers and students.

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