Matilda Hartley Elementary teachers took a field trip of their own to their student's neighborhoods. They said they feel they can be better teachers when they see from the student's perspective.


Teachers from Matilda Hartley Elementary were on the move.

Friday morning, students will be getting on the school bus, but Thursday, it was the teachers on the bus.

They knocked on doors, introduced themselves, and informed parents of the open house meeting they were having that afternoon.

"I think the children need to know that we have a relationship with them," says Teacher of the Year Delphia Boynton. "That's what our focus is at Hartley—building relationships. They also need to know that we care, and we're excited for them to come back to school."

Parents seemed to appreciate the effort.

"It's a good idea. That's what they ought to start doing more often," says David Rennie, father of a Matilda Hartley Elementary first grader. "It shows me they're some good teachers."

This field trip was not just about the open house, though.

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." That was Principal Shelia Garcia's motto for the day.

She wanted teachers to understand where some of their students come from.

She says the majority are in poverty, and the visit put some things in perspective.

"I understand so much deeper why these students come to school dirty, why they haven't done their homework," says Garcia.

"They're having to deal with some things happening in the media. It's not just happening away from them or on TV. It's actually happening in their communities," explains Boynton. "They're very close to these issues. And then they have to get up and focus on things that they don't see the importance of right now because they're children."

While that's not the case for every student, the more the teachers can learn, the better prepared they can be for the new year.

And know that nothing can stop them.

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