CCA field trip coordinator help create lasting bonds

Marie Martin helps organize events for families in the Northeast region.

A mother once approached Marie Martin during a trampoline park field trip and, with tears in her eyes, said her daughter hadn’t made any friends since the family moved to the area to work in the gas fields and was living in a hotel.

Martin, a field trip coordinator for Commonwealth Charter Academy, found participants of the same age from the same town, and by the end of the event, the girl had made fast friends. At CCA, “There are no children who are the outcast,” Martin said.

“I’ve seen beautiful friendships,” she said. “There are not those cliques. Our kids know they’re here for a reason. They take someone under their wing, and by the time they leave, they’ve made a friend.”

At CCA, regional field trip coordinators organize events that bring students and families together for fun sprinkled with education. Martin runs monthly field trips throughout 12 northeast Pennsylvania counties. The events are carefully curated to align with lessons for every grade level participating.

For example, when students are learning math fact families in elementary school; mean, median and mode in middle school; and physics in high school, she will take everyone bowling.

“They can work out the physics of it,” Martin said. “They can do mean, median and mode with the scores, and we can trace fact families and find out what a number is and how it is used. It hits all of those things, so if the student says they’re never going to use that in real life, that’s where I come in.”

Her students have made apple cider, built 3-D models of the human body and conducted scavenger hunts. Martin, who holds two bachelor’s degrees in education and has taught in England and Italy, is always willing to start an outing with “something crazy and silly” to promote group bonding.

“I’ve done cartwheels pregnant,” she said. “Yep, I totally did that. Or we’ll throw around a ball with questions that will make you think, like why is a certain character in a book the way he is and why that makes sense to you. Something thought-provoking where they have to get themselves out there and participate.”

Martin recently worked with Nepalese refugee children as she pursues a master’s degree and certification in teaching English as a second language. Her international travel and exposure to impoverished families have taught her “that we are just one” and that every family deserves someone caring enough to ask, “How are you?”

She applies those lessons daily at CCA, where families come from all walks of life.

Sometimes being fair isn’t treating everyone alike,” Martin said. “It means being fair. It opens me up to knowing that not everybody is the same, and you need to take the time with each person and give them what they need.”

CCA students “have more meaningful interactions with each other than their brick-and-mortar counterparts,” Martin said. Academics benefit because “if you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’re going to be more willing to absorb information and not shut down.

“I’m trying to keep an open end of the spectrum where they’re open to ideas,” she said. “They see that learning has real-life applications, and they’re interacting with their peers. It lets them know they’re not alone. They need that release.”