By Sheila Oxx Director of School Age Programs, Guadalupe Center
Any teacher or adult who’s ever chaperoned a field trip knows how exhausting the day can be. You have to shepherd students on and off buses, through exhibits and into bathroom lines. You have to make sure they wash their hands, eat lunch and don’t lose track of their personal belongings. You have to constantly reinforce the academic components of the trip and make sure children use their indoor voices. And most importantly, you must make sure every student is accounted for. It’s stressful, to say the least. But when you hear feedback from a student like Mahayla Alday, it makes the work all worthwhile. “It was the most amazing field trip ever,” she said. Mahayla, a second-grader, was among 239 children in Guadalupe Center’s Summer Enrichment Program who took a field trip from Immokalee to the Paragon Pavilion Theater in Naples. Immokalee does not have its own movie theater, and the lengthy drive – along with the high cost of a movie ticket – prohibits many Immokalee youth from catching a flick at the theater. Paragon Pavilion donated use of four theaters free of charge as well as popcorn at a reduced cost. “Paragon Theaters regularly partners with local nonprofit organizations and youth groups, so we were happy to give the students from Guadalupe Center a field trip to remember,” said Scot Buss, general manager of Paragon Pavilion. “The children all had a great time and we hope to see them back again next summer.” “Mornings in our summer program are packed with academics to prevent summer learning loss, so trips like these are a wonderful reward for their year-round hard work,” added Dawn Montecalvo, Guadalupe Center president. “For some of them, this was the first time they’ve ever been to a movie theater. That’s what our Summer Enrichment Program is all about – providing new opportunities and activities that children normally don’t do at school or home.” This summer, children have toured a historic Florida ranch, taken drama and dance courses, had their teeth checked through the University of Florida, visited Snyderman’s Shoes to be fitted for a new pair of sneakers, explored Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel and participated in interactive STEM lessons led by the Nutty Scientist and students from Bishop Verot Catholic High School. Guadalupe Center teachers also have worked side-by-side with guest speakers to provide anti-bullying, character education and safety programs. Guadalupe Center, a nonprofit organization focused on breaking the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee, operates an Early Childhood Education Program, After-School and Summer Enrichment Program, and the college preparatory Tutor Corps Program. “It’s amazing to see children light up when they experience something new for the first time,” Montecalvo said. “Hearing comments like Mahayla’s gives all of us further motivation to continue expanding our students’ world. It truly is making a difference in their lives.” About the Author Sheila Oxx is the director of school age programs for Guadalupe Center. She has a master’s degree in educational technology from the American College of Education, and her work experience includes more than 10 years as a teacher for the Collier County School District and as a professional development specialist focused on education.