Years ago, an Alabama high school teacher led a student travel program for her students. When she left the school, the trip ended and several teachers struggled to reorganize a program. That is, until Program Leader Michaela Young introduced a new idea: a WorldStrides DiscoverNow! Costa Rica program. Young followed each step of our Recipe for Success – personally inviting all of the students (from not one, but four grade levels!), showing the short student video, and hosting a successful parent meeting. After all these years, she’s excited to say that she will be leading the school’s first science trip to Costa Rica in spring 2014.
Those who know Young are not surprised that she was able to make this opportunity possible for her students; she has always been passionate about education. She attended graduate school and became a research assistant in the science field for many years before she decided to become a teacher. “I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” Young explained. “Teaching is a calling. It’ll just keep bugging you until you do it.” Now that’s she’s been teaching for 15 years, she wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
Young is so dedicated to finding new ways for students to enjoy learning as much as she does that she has started several science-focused programs at her school, including a science fair, robotics team, and HAM radio team. Only 15 students participated in her first science fair five years ago, but now more than 400 students participate! Twenty-seven students went to the regional science competition and two students went to the state competition just this past year. Young goes above and beyond to make each science program successful so that each student has an opportunity to connect with science in the way that works for them.
“I have no doubt that this Costa Rica program is building a great foundation for the students at my school,” Young said. “I already have students from younger grades telling me that their parents are financially planning for this program. I can’t wait to see how many students participate five years from now.”
On this trip, students will explore cloud forests and rainforests, hike along an active volcano, and more. Her students are looking forward to ziplining, white water rafting, and apparently, swimming in the hotel pool. Young is enthusiastic about traveling, seeing the world, and witnessing how the trip impacts her students. In fact, she’s most excited about giving one special traveler, her son, the opportunity to take his first plane ride.
“A few days before your team called me, I received a postcard in the mail that promoted a trip to Costa Rica with my students. I kept thinking about calling, but never did,” Young explained. “I’m so glad WorldStrides called me or I may not have traveled!”
Are you just starting a WorldStrides DiscoverNow! program in your school? We’d love to hear your story below!