Getting educated on unique places

MANISTEE — Part of the educational experience in today’s global world is to gain an understanding of different cultures around the globe.

Manistee Middle/High School teachers Kris Johnson and Amanda Clemons are planning a series of trips for students and parents over the next several years through Education First Tours like this one they made last spring to Ireland.

It is one of the reasons Manistee Area Public School teachers Kris Johnson and Amanda Clemons started up a series of trips with Education First Tours. Last year they took a group of students and parents to Ireland, and this year in June they are working on a European trip to Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain.

Clemons said in that spirit they are advancing their plans several years out to give students, parents and interested adults an opportunity to plan. These trips are available to any student in Manistee County, their parents or interested adults from the community.

Trips include air fair, accommodations, two meals a day and a tour guide to help with the learning experience.

“We wanted to make it a consistent opportunity and the best way for kids and parents to do it is to plan it out,” Clemons said. “With the payment plans it becomes a lot more affordable that way for families to give them that experience. So we have put together a four-year plan so people might be able to look at a particular year and say ‘that is something I would really be interested in doing’ and start saving money.'”

Clemons said the concept is if they aren’t interested in a trip from one year, they may save their money for a trip for another year instead of settling for somewhere else.

Another added factor is the school is also offering a marine biology study trip to the Bahamas again this year, so students have to save money for which trip they would like to take during the year.

“We want to make sure people have the time to plan, so they can experience all these things and don’t have to feel like they didn’t know about something,” she said.

In 2020 they plan to take a 12 day trip to Peru that will include stops in Lima, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytabo, Cuzco, Puerto Maldonado and Amazon Ledge.

“We have an informational meeting on this trip at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 at room 122 in the Manistee Middle/High School building,” said Clemons.

She stressed the meeting is only for informational purposes and no one will have to sign up at that time. They will discuss what they will see and do on the trip, travel logistics, how to earn high school/college credits, and about affordable pay options.

“We do need people to RSVP if they plan to attend that informational meeting to or they can email me at” said Clemons. “The only reason for them needing to RSVP is if we need to find a larger space to meet.”

Clemons said they chose Peru for a specific reason.

“Peru isn’t a place were people often choose to vacation on their own,” she said. “It is a really great trip as you get to see the Inca ruins, the salt ponds and markets. It is nice to do with the tour as you always have a local guide with you. As a bonus Peru is a Spanish speaking country and so many of our students are taking Spanish. This gives them an opportunity to use it in a real world situation.”

In 2021 they are planning a trip to Asia.

“I am thinking of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam,” said Johnson. “We are still working on that one and it could be 11 or 14 days in length. Once you are there souvenirs and food are pretty reasonable. Once we get the Peru trip planned we will start work on the Asia trip.”

That will be followed up in 2022 by Eastern Europe with stops in Berlin, Prague, Krakow and Budapest.

“Our goal is to select places people would like to see, but it might not be feasible to do it on your own unlike with a tour group where you get a much better deal this way than doing it on their own,” said Clemons.

The whole idea is get students and adults thinking in advance for financial and planning purposes for what they plan to offer. There hopes are the advance notice will also increase the number of people wanting to make the trip.


Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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