By N. Hamilton, M.Ed., MLS
HEMPSTEAD – With the No Child Left Behind laws prevalent in the 2000’s, many school districts and principals focused on academic instruction in order for students to pass tests via the elimination of music, art, libraries, and other disciplines that would cultivate the whole child.
With the removal of the arts and field trips, many students of color will not get exposure to a full range of experiences like their wealthy counterparts. What educators end up doing is giving kids who are living in poverty the most impoverished learning experiences.
Not at Booker T. Washington High School! Our very own principal, Dr. Carlos Phillips II, knows that something as minor as a field trip can spark interest in knowledge, then, and only then, can authentic learning occur. In return for these types of experiences, research has proven that students test scores will be positively impacted.
Recently, 2018, Mr. and Mrs. Malonson, owners of the African-American News and Issues and the RS Deer & Cattle Ranch, invited a group of Booker T. Washington students and teachers to their private property for an enriching learning experience.
Dr. Phillips, Principal, Mr. Nicholas Turner, Lead Instructor of Future Farmers of America, and Ms. Deaundra Thomas, Outdoor Adventures Instructor, got together and immediately made sure our students were able to take advantage of this opportunity.
Once we arrived, Mr. Malonson made sure our students of color received the top of the line experience. Multiple Texas Game Wardens hosted the learning excursion by explaining all aspects of how to maintain land, how to protect land, and how to maintain wildlife. But, most importantly, the Texas Game Wardens taught our students how to abide by laws regarding land ownership.
The experience did not stop there, the Malonson’s also had an actual hunter present, who provided sample shooting lessons, and in-depth information about upcoming hunting camps and courses.
Our students were also provided an outdoor lunch that was cooked by the Malonson’s themselves, and they were permitted to fish in the man-made lake dug out personally by the Malonson’s as well! It doesn’t get any better than that! How many people take the time to give back to the community in such a personal way?
“We never knew that being a black or minority land owner was an option for us.” stated several of our Booker T. Washington students after talking amidst themselves. Unfortunately, many people of color have forgotten about the basis of land as wealth. Land is essential to providing the self-sufficiency that minority communities need for economic and physical health.
In a single excursion, The Malonson’s taught our students of color about ALL of life’s possibilities outside systematic employment. They taught them entrepreneurship, land ownership, and how to give back to the community that once served them. The in-depth learning from this immersive experience will never be forgotten by our Booker T. Washington students, and an experience like this can never be replaced by classroom only instruction.