McKINNEY — The words emblazoned across the blindingly green 35-foot RV parked behind McKinney North High School on Oct. 9 provided a tidy summary of its mission: “Define Your Own Road in Life.” Impossible to miss, the RV which belonged to the 2013 Roadtrip Nation Roadie Tour, served as more than just transportation. It was a symbol of the youthful quest for a career path that captures the purpose and passion of one’s heart.
Onboard the RV were Tour “Roadies” Kim, Andrew, Emercelle and Conner – four recent college graduates on a cross-country trek to inspire high school students to consider and prepare for the possibilities that lie ahead of them.
The Tour stopped at North on Oct. 9 for a two-hour Roadtrip Nation Experience curriculum kick-off event with the combined 10th grade AVID students from North, McKinney Boyd and McKinney High. North was chosen as one of 25 high schools across the country to host a Tour event due to its status as an AVID Demonstration School. AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a national college readiness system to prepare students for four-year college eligibility. AVID students are enrolled in a school’s advanced classes, and attend an academic elective class – called AVID – taught within the school day by a trained AVID teacher.
The event program featured testimonials from the Roadies, instructive video excerpts from various seasons of the Roadtrip Nation television show, an opportunity for students to explore what pursuits interest them most and a Q&A session with McKinney entrepreneur Jason Adams, CEO of Curious Complex.
“Defining who you are and owning who you are will set the course of where you want to go,” Adams advised the audience. “Start realizing who you are and own that.”
The MISD 10th grade AVID students have just gotten underway with the yearlong curriculum, which the Roadtrip Nation Experience website describes as an educational “program that empowers students to map their interests to future pathways in life. The heart of this experience is students exploring their communities and speaking with local leaders to learn the steps that they took to get where they are today.”
It’s the educational outreach of “Roadtrip Nation,” a book and reality PBS series which started with a cross-country quest in an RV more than 10 years ago. Mike Marriner, one of the authors and founders of Roadtrip Nation, and Brian McAllister, who accompanied Marriner on the first road trip, were on hand Wednesday for the kickoff event.
The "Roadies" of the 2013 Roadtrip Nation Roadie Tour (from left), Kim, Andrew, Emercelle and Conner. The Roadies are on the road for six weeks visiting 25 schools from California to New York to inspire students to prepare for the career possibilities that lie ahead of them.
“The Roadtrip Nation Experience curriculum was launched in 2009, so this is the fourth academic year of the curriculum,” said Marriner. “The whole point is to not only have green RV’s going across America for the TV show, but to have a model by which thousands of students can build their own projects. Because, we realized that students didn’t want to just live vicariously through our road trip – they want to have their own experiences. The curriculum guides them in building their own local road trip projects.”
“I think especially after today,” added McAllister, “the biggest thing is for students to start to build their own local road trips, to engage the community ... to connect their interests to their futures, and see where they fit into the pathways that are available.”
And, that involves students stepping out of their comfort zones to connect with local leaders in order to glean insight from their success – which can be an intimidating prospect. To break the ice, the Roadies called for a volunteer, and North AVID student Taylor Miles found herself onstage attempting a cold-call interview of a leader in her area of interest – a museum art director.
“We do need to ask questions and put ourselves out there, you know,” said Miles afterward. “It was pretty terrifying because I never did an interview or called anyone like that before, but I think I could do it again. I’m happy I did it because I have this really terrified fear of getting onstage, but I’m happy I did.”
And the interview itself? Miles got past the receptionist, but had to settle for leaving a voice mail.
Beyond building confidence, the Roadtrip Nation Experience curriculum calls these 10th grade AVID students to begin thinking about their future careers today and how they can find a career that they enjoy. Each student was handed two Post-It notes and instructed to write down on each one a pursuit that interests them. Then, they were challenged to consider how those two things might be merged into one career path.
For North AVID student Bryan Hernandez, it was a simple, but valuable exercise. “I feel like [the program] is really good because I’m one of those people who are kind of indecisive about what I want to do when I grow up,” said Hernandez. “I have always pushed [what I want to do] to the back of my head and said, ‘I’ll figure it out when I’m a senior.’ This kind of makes me think about it more and more. It was my first time writing it down and thinking about it, and it kind of gave me the realization that I can do something that I enjoy in my work.”
And that’s the crux of the matter.
“After today, we hope that these students just engage in this experience and go engage with folks and interact with community leaders,” said Marriner.
“One of our favorite quotes on the first trip was, ‘The road is only linear in the rear-view mirror.’ It’s easy as a kid to look out and think you want to have one thing, but the reality is that it’s less about having a lined-out road map, and it’s more about having a tuned in compass. That’s what we’re trying to pass on to students as they try to figure out what matters to them and what they’re interested in.”
For more information about the Roadtrip Nation Experience visit roadtripnation.org.
For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About McKinney ISD
One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,000 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, one alternative school and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.