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Plattsburgh city school’s budget cuts

Pre-k students at Momot Elementary School in Plattsburgh used to take field trips to Country Dreams Farms to meet real farmers and see where food comes from.

Pre-k students at Momot Elementary School in Plattsburgh used to take field trips to Country Dreams Farms to meet real farmers and see where food comes from. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

PLATTSBURGH — Apples don’t come from grocery stores, they come from trees.

Oftentimes, those trees are part of a greater mechanism, called a farm.

The connection, from apple to tree to farm, seems simple, even obvious.

But Mary Ward, teacher for the targeted pre-kindergarten program at Momot Elementary School in Plattsburgh, is afraid not enough kids have the resources available to help them connect those dots.

Her program targets low-income families, some of whose children might be deprived of opportunities other kids have.

“A lot of the students think food comes from the grocery store, so we take them into the back of a grocery store so they can see how the food gets into the store,” Ward said. “Then we go to a farm that grows the food we see in the grocery store.”

The field trips have been an essential supplement to her curriculum, which focuses on social studies and how various elements within a community are interconnected.

With the latest round of voter-approved budget cuts, establishing those connections has become increasingly difficult in the City of Plattburgh school district.

The budget cuts have made field trips a thing of the past, along with the Odyssey science program and assistant coaching positions.

“Field trips are especially important for young kids,” Ward said. “Their brains are developing and they’re still sorting out reality and fiction.”

Ward’s teaching technique is to nurture that sorting process by having her students learn about topics like farming from books and classroom instruction, and then taking them to see the real thing.

“We’d do things like study the different homes and shelters people live in, and then go to a building supply store,” Ward said. “They’d see a knot in the wood and realize that’s where a branch was, they’d see tools and realize that’s what people use to build, they’d see a forklift and learn about how machines help us.”

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