Community support funds experiences for Adams School students

Cross categorical teacher Krys Eversden-Dusterhaus and student Alex Kinard listen to Quincy Fire Department's Scott Peters talk about fire hoses at the Central Fire Station. The fire station is one of many field trips that the cross categorical class attends. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 13, 2017 8:25 am Updated: Nov. 13, 2017 3:22 pm

QUINCY -- Krykette Eversden-Duesterhaus doesn't want learning to stop at the door of her classroom or her school, so she extends it into the community.

The 12 students in her cross categorical room at Adams School go swimming and bowling, tour Quincy's central fire station and HIS Ranch in Taylor, Mo., and enjoy a Thanksgiving "feast" at a local restaurant.

It's another way, she believes, to "put ability in disability" for her students who may have developmental delays, autism, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities or other health issues.

"Anything we can do for our kids. That's what it's all about," the teacher known as "Miss Krykette" said.

"Some of these children are not going to have these experiences if they're not provided," she said. "Really truly what is it you remember about school? You will remember the field trips, and hopefully more than that, but when you really talk to kids, that's a lifelong memory they have to reflect on."

A recent trip to the fire station provided some firsthand lessons in fire safety.

"Before we ever go on field trips, we do all that in-house learning. The kids were exposed to a fire truck, equipment, what firemen look like when they go into a fire," she said. "You can read about it, YouTube it or have a fireman come in, but to see it firsthand beyond books and the classroom environment makes it more realistic and more meaningful."

Firefighter Steve Peters showed off equipment like the cutters and spreaders used to rescue people after traffic crashes, the thermal camera used at a fire scene and the ladders and hoses stored on a fire truck. Students saw where firefighters eat, sleep, work out to stay fit and how they can slide down a pole from the second floor to rush to fight a fire.

The students answered questions from Peters, guessing correctly that the green lever would operate the green fire hose, and third-grader Devon Coulter, who wants to be a policeman not a fireman, added his own explanation of the colored lights on the back of the fire truck.

Peters also dressed in his gear, complete with his air tank, so students wouldn't be fearful in the event of a fire.

"When he puts it on, he's going to look a little different. He's still Firefighter Steve," Lt. Chris Bichsel said. "If you have a fire in your house and somebody (comes in) dressed up like this, are they there to hurt you or help you? To help you. Don't hide from us."

Making the experiences happen takes support from the community.

"Thank goodness businesses and organizations give us the opportunity to partake of this," Eversden-Duesterhaus said. "None of this is funded by the district."

Grants -- from sources ranging from Adams Electric Cooperative to the QPS Foundation, Kiwanis clubs and the Quincy Service League -- cover the cost for the field trips, including paying for mileage and a driver for bus transportation.

The process took Eversden-Duesterhaus from a novice grant-writer to one who keeps a binder at the ready with due dates highlighted.

"I wrote my first one and got it, wrote the second one and got it and wrote the third one and got it. I was very fortunate," she said. "It kind of motivates you. It's a challenge competing against other educators, and when you write grants, you try to sell yourself and your program."

More help to make the field trips available comes from paraprofessionals working with the students and from the students' parents.

"I'm very blessed to get to work with a wonderful team of people," she said. "It's a partnership. I tell them I do my part, you do your part and we work together in the common interest to help your child succeed."

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