This week’s group leader spotlight goes to Deanna, who has been teaching in Oregon for 24 years. ACIS isn’t the first educational travel company she’s gone with, but after seeing the difference between us and The Other Guys, she says she’s “sticking with us!”
1. Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background in education?
My name is Deanna I have been teaching for 24 years in Oregon. Throughout my tenure, I have taught all grade levels (except kindergarten), even college level French for our local Community College. Even though I have currently been teaching French for the past 5 years, I have also taught middle school language arts, art and social studies and all subject areas 1st-6th grade.
2. Had you ever traveled abroad in the past with students?
Last year was my first trip with ACIS – I inherited it from a teacher who could not travel. After our first trip to England, France and Germany (a WWII tour), I was so impressed with the quality of lodging, food, tour guide and sites that I am sticking with ACIS!
3. What were your previous educational travel experiences like? How did they compare to an ACIS trip?
To be honest, at first “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” My first European adventure was with another company that another teacher set up and though it was less expensive, you have to consider all the corners the company cut:
1) Students were hungry after the meals and were told they could not receive any more food. So our adult travelers sacrificed their meal portions to give to the students or they bought more food afterwards.
2) We were so rushed and pushed about that at times people didn’t have time to take their medications out of their bags and became sick.
3) When a traveler was injured (who had purchased the premium medical plan), the insurance company refused to pay.
Honestly, it wasn’t worth the few extra bucks the travelers initially saved to travel with that company, because students and adults ended up spending more of their own money once in Europe and back home. I would never travel with that company again.
4. What classroom goals did you have for your trip?
Learning sayings (greetings and such) and language of the visiting country. The tour guides were very accommodating and even when other groups had different goals, he (in this case) accommodated all of us!)
5. Do you have any tips on recruitment or fundraising?
Here are the things I do to make the trip happen:
- Advertise – I put out a general letter to the community as well as send it out on my Facebook and to staff. I also ask teachers to spread the word – I even put it on morning announcements as well as hang up posters and set out flyers at conferences.
- Fundraise – I have grown my fundraising – figuring what works and what doesn’t. I am not in charge of all the fundraising and ask parents to lead. I lead when we do concessions, but otherwise it is up to the team/participants to do the others. We have a great lead with our College. We do concessions for football, basketball and baseball. I also give student options to fundraise for one or two years to help pay for the trip.
- Offer multiple opportunities for meetings – This year I am starting early. I have already had two meetings and have a third before winter break. The earlier the meetings start, the more time students have for payment.
- Consider the trip timing – This year we went during our spring break in late March: it was $800 cheaper than traveling during the summer. We are going to Greece and Italy next year, though, and because we didn’t want to go to France and Spain in spring – too wet and cold! – we are traveling in early July, which costs less than going in June.
- Anyone over 14 is welcome – I encourage to have staff travel with us. Plus I always do a “Theme” – Art, History, etc. It helps that I’ve taught both of those a one point in my career.
6. Which aspect of the trip do you think your students enjoyed the most?
Students liked the activities. If they were moving, they were happy. I appreciated the close proximity of the hotels to the sites and often took a group of students on an evening walk.
7. Where would you like to go in the future?
I’m thinking of a language arts theme to England, Scotland and Ireland…. I really don’t know yet. I just know I’m going!
8. In 15 words or less, why would you recommend ACIS?
Quality. Enhanced Experiences. Professional and Knowledgeable Tour Guides and Staff. FUN!! You won’t be let down by ACIS! You’ll only want to travel more!