Traveling teacher

Teacher exposes students to outside world through experiential learning


Photo by Kaitlyn Rogers

Several junior girls jump in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. A group of students visited various European countries in summer 2018.

Story by Ashlyn Winters, staff writer

Many children in Texarkana grow up never traveling outside of the state, or even outside of town. Imagine witnessing a child experience life outside of such a small town like Texarkana and becoming exposed to all that the world has to offer. Texas High staff member Brittney Huggins has been traveling with students for nearly two years. So far, she has traveled with students to Washington D.C. and New York City.

“The two trips we have taken so far have gone very well. I had a lot more kids than I thought I would, but it was a lot of fun,” Huggins said. “I would love to be able to travel at least one place every year. I would like to go to more exotic places once we get more traveling experience.”

Having school trips such as these has a positive impact on the students. For instance, the students are able to witness different cultures and lifestyles outside of Texarkana. These experiences have been very eye-opening to many of the students who have traveled very little throughout their lives.

“The kids who went last year had really positive things to say about the trip. For a lot of them, it was their first time on an airplane, and 12 of the kids that I had taken had never been out of state. I had a lot of kids who it was their first time traveling without their parents,” Huggins said. “It was very interesting to see how they grew from that first day from being very timid and scared at the airport when they were being dropped off to being very confident in what they were doing and where they were going by the fifth day.”

Along with finding one’s way around an unfamiliar place, handling up to 30 kids at a time with a small number of chaperones can be a lot to handle. However, Huggins could easily handle the stress due to the fact that she grew up in a large family.

“I come from a very large extended family, so by now, I am very used to organized chaos. I liked the trips, even though [things were] a little bit chaotic at times, especially in Washington D.C., when we went to museums where it was very crowded, so we had to keep a close eye on the kids.” Huggins said. “In New York, everybody moved very quickly, so everybody had to keep up with one another so that the group would stay together.”

Due to the massive crowds at each of the locations that the group visited, each student received matching shirts ahead of time so that they could be easily spotted. According to Huggins, a large portion of the students that attended the trip were juniors whom she had previously taught, therefore, they were trusted to behave more responsibly.

“I definitely prefer bringing upperclassmen [on trips], but I’m not opposed to taking underclassmen, as long as they have proven themselves trustworthy in school,” Huggins said. “There’s not really an age that you can put on people that marks them as good travelers. It’s really more of a maturity level.”

The group has not traveled outside of the country yet due to many of the students’ lack of traveling experience. However, Huggins has goals to take her students outside of the United States in the future so that they can experience what lies outside of their corner of the world.

I would like to travel with my kids in the future and be able to let them experience other places through traveling.”

— Brittney Huggins

“We are [going to] Canada next year to practice international traveling. Fortunately, Canada is close enough that, should something happen, we would be landlocked and would be safer to start off with. I am very nervous about traveling internationally because it is such a huge responsibility. We’d be taking someone else’s children an ocean length away, so that is a huge step that a lot of parents are hesitant to take.”

In the summer of 2019, Huggins, along with her group, will be traveling to Canada for seven days. During the winter of 2020, the group is going back to Washington D.C. for three days during the presidential inauguration. Lastly, during the summer of 2020, the group will also visit the Galapagos Islands for 12 days.

“I plan on taking my two kids with me on the trips when they get a little older,” Huggins said. “I do like the alone time, and it’s nice to have a few nights of uninterrupted sleep, but I miss them so much by the time I get back home. I would like to travel with my kids in the future and be able to let them experience other places through traveling.”