Candee Collins, KC adjunct government instructor, found a way to transport her students to their regularly scheduled field trips without leaving their homes during the COVID-19 shelter order. Using the video communication app, Zoom, as her portal, she was able to show her dual credit students at Gladewater High School the world of local government.
Originally, the plan was to go to Gladewater City Hall, meet the employees and learn why their jobs are important. That couldn’t happen in person this semester, but Collins still wanted her students to have that experience. She called the city manager, Ricky Tow, to see if they would be willing to do the tour via Zoom. After a trial run, the “trip” was back on. Before the day of the first field trip, Collins sent her students on a scavenger hunt. The assignment was to explore the city website and go through the city charter, look for details in the background, and find specific questions like who the current police chief is and so on.
On the first “field trip,” Collins asked how many of them had ever been to a city hall. Not one of them had even been through the door. They mentioned that they had no need to. If they receive a speeding ticket or citation, they pay them online.
“Even though we couldn’t physically go there, we had an opportunity for the kids to see into what their city does and what the city administration does for their town,” Collins said.
The final part of this trip was for the students to pick one of the city employees and write a thank you note to them. This became a personal assignment to thank the city government for what they do.
This trip went so well they planned a second one. Collins emailed three Texas Representatives and Cole Hefner of Mount Pleasant was the first to respond. Representative Hefner was elected in 2016 and took office in 2017. He represents District 5, which is Camp, Morris, Rains, Smith, Titus and Wood counties.
Again, the students were tasked with undertaking a similar scavenger hunt on the Representative’s website. Their assignment was to find out what bills he had sponsored or co-sponsored, what committees he is currently serving on, and write some questions to ask him.
“I want them to go away with an understanding of why it’s important to be politically attracted to what is happening within their state and in their county,” Collins said. “If they take that away, then it’s been a successful semester.”
By Tricia Still – Staff Writer