Imagine traveling the world right now from the comfort of your own home. That’s what Good Will-Hinckley’s private special purpose school, the Glenn Stratton Learning Center students are doing.

Because of the creative staff, the students are able to “visit” places such as a local barn here in Maine, the streets of New York City, including Central Park; got a little French lesson in Leon France, saw the Congo River, visited Scotland and received a personal performance of “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes and most recently spoke with a 911 Dispatcher from Manchester England, according to a news release from Michelle Theriault, marketing and development director at the Hinckley school.

Pam Wilcox virtual teaching from her North Belgrade barn in April while holding a day-old lamb. Photo courtesy of Good Will-Hinckley

“Life around the world” started on a farm in North Belgrade where science teacher Pam Wilcox gave a lesson to her students. They were able to see animals that were as young as an hour old. Wilcox talked about the uses of the animals from how cheese can be made from the milk of the goats and sweaters from the wool of sheep.

The “classroom” visited New York City, where resident Michelle Marks spent an hour one day a week for four weeks talking to the students. The first two weeks were focused on what it was like to live in the city during this pandemic and how the virus has impacted life in the city.

She showed pictures of the empty street and discussed essential workers. The students were able to talk with the doorman in Marks’ apartment building, a local UPS driver, and a pharmacy worker. Week three she took them on a walk to Central Park, three minutes from her apartment, where she was able to give facts about the surroundings.

The fourth and final week Marks showed the classroom a slideshow that discussed movies that were filmed at various locations in the city such as Central Park and the Empire State Building. During a recent telephone interview, Marks said, “I enjoyed it so much; they (the students) were so polite. They are a wonderful bunch of children and it was such a great experience for me,” according to the release.

Two-day-old pigs from Pam Wilcox’s barn in North Belgrade. Photo courtesy of Good Will-Hinckley

When “visiting” the different areas the students learn not only a little about the culture but also how COVID-19 has affected the area. There also is a lot of conversation around sports and food. The students have learned that in Scotland students attend college for free and everyone’s healthcare and medication is at no cost. Did you know that in England beans on toast is a common breakfast? Those are just a few facts that the GSLC students have learned over the past several weeks.

The students have been engaged and have enjoyed this new opportunity so much, the GSLC staff has decided to continue the “life around the world” lessons when they reconvene in the fall, according to the release.

Next up is a little “trip” to New Zealand. Educators who would like to set up something similar for their students, can reach out to Wilcox at [email protected] to get some helpful hints on how to do a “life around the world” tour.

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