Braden River students turn the Ringling into a classroom
Teacher juggles fun, education during tour of The Ringling.
| 5:35 p.m. May 13, 2017
Artwork at The Ringling simply couldn’t stand up to an elephant seal.
One of the stops May 13 for Braden River Elementary teacher Nicholas Leduc and his 12 students was the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, but his students kept wanting to talk about the Circus Museum.
“I had no idea the circus had a sea elephant,” student Shannon Boyce said. “The little signs (in the museum) said that it is one of the circus’ largest attractions, and that it eats 150 pounds of fish every day.”
No matter their favorite subject, Leduc’s students did learn.
“I learned that there is a whole bunch of new circus tricks,” student Cora Augustine said. “I also learned that Tibbals was the guy who made the (Circus) Museum, and that the circus used to travel by train from show to show.”
Augustine was referring to Howard Tibbals, for whom the Tibbals Learning Center at the Circus Museum is named. Tibbals created The Howard Bros. Circus, a 3/4-inch-to-1-foot scale replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
For the past six years, Leduc has been taking his fourth-graders on field trip, or experiential learning opportunities, as he calls them.
“I organized this field trip so that they could see the museum and learn,” Leduc said. “Then, after all that, they could just play a little — see everything outside and run a little bit because you just can’t drag a kid through an art museum and send them home.”
Leduc organized a scavenger hunt for the students, although no prize was offered. It was simply a fun way to learn facts about The Ringling.
As his students navigated the rooms of the art museum, Leduc offered a brief history of the sculptures, paintings and artifacts they were experiencing.
“Before they would enter another room, I liked to encourage them to stop, take a look and read something,” Leduc said. “I wanted them to try to learn something, then tell me something I don’t know.”
Leduc loves to keep his trips entertaining since they are optional and he knows his students might have plenty of choices when it comes to their personal time.
“I am just blessed that they do want to hang out with me,” Leduc said.
And his students do love hanging out with him.
“Mr. Leduc is more of a kid on Saturdays — he is so fun,” student Rose Reece said. “He is not one of those teachers that if you are on a field trip, you have all these rules. He actually plays like a kid with us and lets us do so many things.”