Community Opens Doors for Teacher’s Final Field Trip

By Wilson Borntrager Posted May 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Phoenix Academy High School teacher, Vivian Connell, seeks to take her students to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. as her last great act as an educator.

Connell feels a whole day at the Holocaust museum would have a positive and permanent impact on the lives of her students.

“I think it would be a great motivator for them to encourage them to follow in this path of being engaged and speaking out,” says Connell. “I wanted them to have that equal opportunity that we talk so much about and so often fail to deliver.”

Unfortunately, her field trip plan comes with a ticking clock. Connell has been recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, a degenerative disease that is pushing her to act quickly while there is still time. She says that by this time next year, she will most likely no longer be capable of teaching, which is why she desires for this to all come together.

Though such news may seem daunting for most, Connell wants to turn this tragedy into a blessing for her students.

“I don’t know if it would have happened without the ALS,” Connell says. “I am a believer that the fabric of our lives is pretty intentionally woven, and so it’s my job to make the most of today and the situation that is.”

In order to pay for transportation, food, and lodging, Connell and her team required $20,000 to make it happen. Much to their surprise, they received over $30,000 from the community for many other opportunities for the students to experience during their time in D.C. The generosity was much more than Connell expected.

While Connell is striving to make this trip for her students memorable as possible, one of her students, Jermishia Baldwin, desires the same for Connell.

“It really means a lot because, since this might be her last year teaching,” says Baldwin. “I feel like this year should be extravagant for her and should be a very memorable year for her.”

To learn more about Vivian Connell and her goal, click here.

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