It’s the ultimate field trip for one high school class, since their Spanish teacher takes students to other countries, and creates experiences for conversation and culture at home too.
Michelle Clarkson was awestruck when she visited Barcelona Spain. She visited the Sagrada Familia Church, and was amazed by the architecture of the unfinished church, designed by Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). “We got off the bus a couple blocks away, and I literally stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and put my head back and went, ‘Wow!’” recalled Clarkson. “It was breathtaking to know that this is something I’ve seen pictures of for 25 years, and I’m here.”
Clarkson is a Spanish 2,3, and 4 teacher in Beckley, West Virginia. She wants to make the Spanish language relevant to her students, and encourage global citizenship. She educates herself by traveling, and passes on her education and experiences to her students.
Students look at her pictures, but they also explore local places where they will get the opportunity to speak Spanish. Most Mexican restaurants in the area are very helpful. In addition, Clarkson has extended the experience by taking her class on trips to Mexico. So far she has led students on two trips and is planning a third. In cash strapped West Virginia there isnt a lot of spare money to send kids globetrotting, but she has worked at making the trips affordable and including family member.
From 1980 to 2013, the number of Spanish speaking Americans has increased by least 233 percent. 37 million Americans speak Spanish in the United States, and the number is growing. Clarkson feels that there is no job anywhere in the USA where it is not likely that there will be an opportunity to speak Spanish. She wants her students to be ready to embrace those opportunities.