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Balmville Teacher Mrs. Campbell-Defoe Shares New Zealand Trip Report
In late May, third graders in Balmville School went on a virtual adventure. Student Griffin Robinson’s family, temporarily living in New Zealand on a work sabbatical, invited teacher Kris Campbell-Defoe to visit. That visit turned into a learning experience that comes around only once in a lifetime. In the months leading up to the visit, Balmville students at various grade levels completed projects to present to Griffiin’s ¾ class in sunny Nelson, NZ. A select group of fifth graders under the guidance of Mr. Decker created a movie entitled “A Day in the Life at Balmville” that they later presented to the whole school in early May. Third graders in Mrs. Collier’s class wrote letters to each student in Griffin’s NZ class. First graders in Mrs. Lamar’s class created a 3D printed Statue of Liberty and a giant poster. Mrs. Allen, art teacher, helped students in third grade create a class quilt highlighting points of interest in Newburgh. All of these items were hand delivered, with a message of peace and the WE ARE ONE NECSD’s theme for the year.
Highlights of the trip included a livestream from Parliament, where Maori blessings opened the Q and A session with excited third graders here at home. Venessa Steele and Speaker of the House Trevor Malloy at Parliament were more than happy to answer questions. Six students, the three Robinson children Corbin, Malia and Griffin and Campbell-Defoe’s three Allie, Liam and Gabriel attended the livestream sessions.. Griffin and Allie got to walk in Parliaments opening procession. A second livestream from The Brook Preserve with Dr. Robinson was held in near darkness in early morning hours (late afternoon the day before here) where students met a curious fantail bird. The third livestream took place via Facetime thanks to the quick thinking of Mrs. Collier (technology was not cooperating).The students were surprised at how different school looked there. There, students have an outdoor swimming pool, a beach close by and don’t have to wear shoes. They have an hour lunch and several long play times built into their 9-3 day. Students in the NZ class presented poi (a Maori ceremonial object) to Balmville Students as a gift in return.
The energy around the project was what made it so exciting. Third graders Jaleeya and Tyler enjoyed creating a project comparing the US and NZ flags and their meanings. Peyton said, “I liked going around to the kindergartens and reading the ABCs of New Zealand book to them.” Ethan loved learning about the kiwi bird and how it couldn’t fly. Emma is thrilled that conservationists and ornithologists like Griffin’s father Doug Robinson are working to save the kiwi from weasels and rats. Bradley learned during the livestream that NZ’s Parliament is always working to make their communities better. Destiny liked seeing the Parliament building. Amaya learned that classes are combined grades 3 and 4. Hunter liked their accents. Naoh enjoyed seeing Griffin in his classroom and the kiwi bird enclosure at The Brook Sanctuary with Dr. Robinson. Scarlett was surprised that the times are very different from Newburgh to Nelson. Ashton thought Griffin’s classroom was huge and enjoyed seeing the large field where kids play. He was also surprised that over there today is tomorrow. The third graders at Balmville agree that they cannot wait to see their friend Griffin return to Balmville next fall.
Mrs. Campbell-Defoe’s hope is that projects like these may encourage other teachers to take advantage of opportunities that enrich their lives both professionally and personally. “This trip has changed my perspective. Although the travel was very long, having the opportunity to see how others teach and learn across the globe was such a positive experience for us! !As it turns out, even almost 10,000 miles away, people are pretty amazing!”
Read the exciting article about the trip published by STUFF in New Zealand:
TEACHERS: Are you and your students doing something great? Please contact your Communication Strategist. We’d love to attend or post your pictures and recap to highlight the amazing accomplishments throughout our district! Grades PreK-5 Amanda McDowell (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Grades 6-12 Cassie Sklarz (email@example.com).