SHS Abroad leaders attend training tour in Madrid 

Ms. Foley and Mrs. Pattershall travel abroad to prepare for February 2023 Senior Trip

BY AZLINE MAURAIS, STAFF WRITER

Ms. Foley (left) with Mrs. Pattershall (right) at the “Mercado San Miguel”, the Market of San Miguel, in Madrid, Spain. Source: Cynthia Pattershall

SHS Abroad advisors Kelly Foley and Cynthia Pattershall flew to Madrid, Spain January 12-16 for an Education First sponsored training trip. Education First, known as EF, is the education-based travel company partnering with Sanford High School for the newly launched travel abroad program. 

The training is for EF’s Group Leaders (Foley) and Lead Chaperones (Pattershall) who booked two or more buses for the first time. This training, funded by EF, was scheduled ahead of SHS Abroad’s first tour with the class of 2023, where 72 travelers made up of students, parents and teacher/staff chaperones will spend nine days in Italy, specifically Venice, Florence and Rome. 

Nearly 100 other educators from 50 different schools across the US also attended. The training mimicked a true double-bus tour for hands-on learning regarding safety, roles and responsibilities of the Group Leaders and chaperones, navigating as a large group in a foreign city, and understanding how to enforce expectations with students, among other helpful tips and tricks for success. 

The training also included two half-day seminars led by EF staff, as well as two expert panel discussions with experienced EF educators to review safety, group management, communication and growth, and the many responsibilities and strategies of Group Leaders. EF emphasizes learning objectives and ensuring positive personal growth in students while traveling. 

“It was definitely a much-needed crash course,” said Foley, who first began developing the SHS Abroad program in 2019 before the pandemic. “I’m so grateful that we got to experience a condensed simulation of how our tour will feel, as well as getting to learn from other experienced educators who travel in large groups.”

For those wondering why Madrid was the location of the training, Foley noted the training was less about the destination and more focused on the travel experience, formal preparation, and the networking that occurred. She also shared that this training provided direction on how to prepare the Italy travelers and families ahead of departure.

“We’re feeling more confident and excited to ensure a successful trip abroad,” she added. Jetlag, however, is a different story, she joked.

Some highlights of their training included visits the Puerta del Sol, the Spanish Royal Palace and the Prado Museum, as well as a half-day trip to Toledo.

As an accredited organization, EF was able to provide Foley and Pattershall with 25 professional development training hours.

SHS Abroad has already launched the Class of 2024’s trip to Greece. SHS Abroad’s mission is to offer one trip abroad to each graduating class, launched at the start of junior year to help financially manage the opportunity.

To stay up to date on SHS Abroad’s plans and follow their trip to Italy, you can follow them on Instagram (@SHS_Abroad) and Facebook (/SanfordAbroad).

Approximately 100 educators and EF staff prepared for double-bus tours in 2023.
Location: Toledo; Source: Kelly Foley

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