I'm so sorry that you have such difficulty getting out of the school
building and with some museums. Not all museums are so indifferent to
teachers; I'm glad that you are able on occasion to take to small galleries
and museums. Our director considers education especially on the K-12 level
our primary mission.
We reserve mornings Tuesday - Friday for school groups only. School groups
are allowed Tuesdays 8 am - 12 Noon Wednesdays - Fridays 8 am - 5 pm. We try
to avoid having groups Mondays (day the cleaning crew is scheduled and my
one day to run errands and arrange meetings outside of the museum) and
Tuesdays (our Free Day from 1 pm - 5 pm with Storytime at 2:00 pm and 4:30
pm so we are very busy and hard to conduct field trips) Exceptions are made
if the teacher only meets with the students once a week; we have a pull out
program for GT. Another exception is if the teacher is organizing a daylong
field trip (they are allowed to leave campus 2 times a year in SAISD, so
they jam as much in as they can. The bus cost the same if they are gone 1
hour or all day). Sometimes when they organize these daylong field trips, it
works out that they have to come to CAM on Mondays or Tuesdays' afternoon.
We work around the problems in this situation. Now I generally refuse to
stay after 5. I've often worked 9 to 10 hours by this point, and am not up
to dealing with kids at that time.
The biggest problem I have is teachers book a field trip from 12:30 pm -
2:30 pm. I warn them that this might not work because of the bus situation.
I pencil them in from 12:00 - 2:30, so they can move back if they need to. I
ask them to call about the bus and tell the personnel that they will LEAVE
the museum at 2:30 (getting to most campuses around 2:45). The teacher calls
back and either to confirm the original time or moves back 15 min. (never to
12:00 like I recommend). They arrive the day of the trip at 12:15 or 12:30
and inform me they have to leave at 2:00. I NEED 2 hours to get 60 kids
through the museum, so something has to be cut or abbreviated. Now I willing
to do that, but I'm not willing to take flack about rushing the tour when it
is the school system's fault. And that is what I tell my boss when someone
calls and complains. Usually it is a parent chaperone that calls - they
think I'm being inflexible and insisting they leave on time. I always call
them back and explain that it was the bus driver that set the leaving time
not me. I am considering not allowing SAISD schools to book a tour that ends
later than 2:00 pm.
Other schools do not have this problem. I even have schools that ARRANGE FOR
SOME STUDENTS TO SPEND THE NIGHT AT SCHOOL OR OTHER STUDENTS HOMES to make
the trip to our museum possible. These are schools that cover whole West
Texas counties. They leave school around 7:30 am. They arrive in San Angelo
up to 4 hours later and visit several sites include our museum. They arrive
back in their small towns sometimes after 7 pm at night.
Kimberly Herbert (firstname.lastname@example.org)
San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts/Children's Art Museum