Singing to McDonald’s employees, shooting pictures in front of a school flagpole and driving from mobile home parks to lakefront homes, Eastern Hills Middle School staff took in their varied attendance zone.
As part of this week’s professional development before the start of classes, the school’s administration arranged a scavenger hunt for teachers and staff to demonstrate the range of areas the school serves.
Thursday’s planned 90-minute hunt with up to 30 stops ended up teaching far more than expected.
While debriefing, Eastern Hills staff members talked about lack of information on the prepared clues, frustration at trying to find the correct flagpole or figuring out an abstract clue.
Teachers also noticed neighborhoods with eviction notices posted on front doors in the same attendance zone with some of the area’s nicest property.
“Some of our students may not know where they are going home that day, while others live (in a house) overlooking a lake,” said principal Jamie Blassingame, as she led a discussion after the hunt.
She told her staff members that studies indicate students consider school a safe place. “We have an important job to do and a difficult job.”
Administrators purposely formed groups mixing newcomers with veteran staff members, prompting teachers to reach out to one another and to collaborate together.
“They grouped us with people from different parts of the school so we got to know each other,” said English teacher Erin Lewis, who was part of the team that made it the farthest.
“I thought it was a creative way to see the neighborhood,” Lewis said, noting that she commutes from Temple and wouldn’t necessarily drive all over the attendance zone.
As part of the activity, the group members used their cellphones to shoot and send photos and videos to administrators back at their school.
Some of the clues included latitude and longitude readings of locations, which helped some and sent others way off course.
Blassingame pointed out that just as global positioning satellites doesn’t ensure successful traveling, technology in the classroom only works when used with purpose.
“We get frustrated, we want to do what’s easier and when we collaborate, we do better and we get further,” she said.
Campus instructional specialist Robert Burns said the activity presented more challenges than expected, but might have taught more, too.
“As adults, if we hit these roadblocks, then think about the roadblocks our kids are hitting,” Burns said.