Peggy Emling and Michelle Goebel | 8th Grade DC Trip Coordinators
Planning a trip for nearly 150 eighth graders is no simple task, but Peggy Emling and Michelle Goeble make it look easy.
The duo took over as trip leaders of the Washington DC trip in 2013, planning for their first trip together in 2014. The DC trip is an institution for Edwardsville junior high/middle school students as they have been making this trip for 35 years.
Goebel went on her first trip as a chaperone in 1996 and completed her 17th trip two weeks ago, while Emling has now been part of 12 trips after being asked to first chaperone in 2001.
“Apart from the educational component, I love the challenge of planning a trip this size,” said Emling. “I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I love puzzles, and making this trip happen is just another giant puzzle to solve.”
“I was honored when I was first asked to chaperone and am still honored to be able to make this trip happen for our middle school students,” said Goeble, who added that it’s the kids that keep her helping to plan the trip year after year.
“I enjoy visiting the historical sites, but I truly love seeing the excitement in the kids’ eyes when they see the sites for the first time, especially the monuments and memorials in DC.”
For Emling, who teaches seventh-grade social studies and has been with District #7 for 23 years, it’s a chance to visit the sites talked about in class.
“I love field trips and teaching outside of the classroom, and this is just one huge field trip,” she said. “We visit sites that we talk about in class, and when students go to those places, they are able to make a much deeper connection to our lessons and to their history.”
In addition to taking in all the sights in Washington DC, the trip also visits Gettysburg, Monticello, Jamestown and Williamsburg. All the sites visited are chosen because they have a direct connection to what is taught in middle school social studies.
“We want students to make deeper connections to those lessons, so that they have better appreciation for their history,” added Emling. “If I were an eighth grader, I would go on this trip because there’s never going to be another opportunity exactly like this.
Emling and Goebel both want to give students the best experience possible, and even though they are pros at their roles, they are always seeking ways to improve it from the previous year.
“We know that this trip is a big financial commitment for families, so we want to give them the most bang for their buck, while providing a fun, yet educational experience,” said Goebel, who has been with District #7 for 30 years.
Emling added that for some students it may be the only time they are ever able to travel like this.
“They will remember this for the rest of their lives, so we want to make sure that it’s a positive memory and that it will encourage a life of learning and exploring their history and their world. Traveling can be the best teacher. It just gives you a perspective that you can’t get in a classroom.”
Despite just returning from DC, plans are already underway for 2023 as the travel company, Worldstrides, offers early registration and some financial discount.
“This really is an educational tour like no other and it would be difficult for a family to pack as much into a day as we do,” said Goebel. “None of this would be possible either without the support District 7 has given to this trip over the years, as well as the Lincoln Alumni Association for providing scholarship funds so that more students can experience this incredible trip.”