The Helena Education Foundation holds "Trading Places" event

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Posted at 10:20 AM, Mar 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-06 12:20:48-05

HELENA — On Tuesday, after a four-year hiatus, the Helena Education Foundations Trading Places program returned.

We spent the day at Jim Darcy Elementary and the Archie Bray Foundation to get a glimpse into this program.

“It’s just a really great way to do like a mini deep dive and see what’s really happening,” said Rebecca Harvey, The Executive Director of the Archie Bray Foundation.

The day starts with playing builders and bulldozers with second graders at Jim Darcy Elementary and ends surrounded by ceramic arts at the Archie Bray.

This year 50 people participated in the event, where public school administrators were paired with a Helena community and business leaders, spending half the day at each’s respective workplace.

The goal is to give each a better understanding of school and workplaces in the 21st century, so schools can better prepare students for experiences outside of the classroom.

“We got to visit classrooms and visit teachers and students and see them actually in their environment,” General James Wilkins, From the Montana National Guard said.

At Jim Darcy Elementary they interacted with first grades in a math lesson and rolled around on scooters in a second-grade gym class.

This pair then headed to Fort Harrison.

“We going to kind of do a big overview this is who we are and what we do. We going to visit some of our educational. We have a star base program that’s education-based for fifth graders. Then we have a health and holistic facility there as well, and then some other fun stuff we have for simulators,” said Wilkins.

The Kessler Elementary Principal, Riley Thatcher, spent the second half of the day at the Archie Bray Foundation.

“I’m hoping we can see the entire footprint of the Archie Bray,” Thatcher said.

There she got a sneak peek at a coming exhibition and met with one of the long-term artists.

“Just knowing the history of the Archie Bray. I haven’t had the opportunity to come out here,” said Thatcher.

Even though everyone comes from a different job they find a lot of connections to each other days.

“We face a lot of the same challenges, just in different ways,” Wilkins said.

They also come away with lessons from the perspective of the other individual's situation.

“They have these whiteboards where the student are not only allowed but encouraged to draw on their desks while they listen to something so they can keep their hands busy. It was so different from when I was in second or third grade,” said Harvey.

“The staff and the leadership all need to be a part of one big team to make this happen for the kids,” Wilkins said.