California's history class trip is funded by the Major League Baseball player

Parker Lefton is a retired history teacher at Maclay Middle School in Pacoina, California, just outside Los Angeles. He continues to work as a teacher in his role as a volunteer coordinator of the Determined to Dream Foundation. Garret Anderson, a recent retired major league baseball player who has spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Angels, finances the Determined to Dream Foundation. Anderson and his wife Teresa were once students at Maclay and have been actively funding and planning special projects at the school since 2003.

Garret Anderson's Foundation finances reading initiatives and educational travel
The Determined to Dream Foundation is the source of funding for the Maclay Middle School's Reading Initiative and Educational Travel. Each year, a group of students undertake a pedagogic trip to the East Coast to Boston, New York City or Philadelphia. Lefton also undertakes an annual trip with a group of students to California's historic and geographic attractions. "I think it's important to make children at this school accessible to the outside world, and many of the kids who go to Maclay have not had the opportunity to move outside LA," commented Lefton.

Looking for an educational tour operator that offers flexibility
The first time he looked for an educational tour operator, Lefton was disappointed that many of the companies he interviewed had certain itineraries that could not be changed. "I did not really like the tours offered by other companies," Lefton said. "Finally, I agreed with the company, which was open to arrange the tour the way I wanted it." Educational Travel Consultants was ready to adapt the tour to its curriculum. Counselors work with teachers to create educational tours that are parallel to the lesson objectives. Prefabricated tours to popular destinations are also available for school groups.

A student tour of California is created
Lefton helped create a six-day tour of California. The journey begins at Maclay Middle School near Los Angeles, passes through the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lake Tahoe, stops at San Francisco Bay and Sacramento, and travels along the California coast to Monterey and Santa Cruz back to Los Angeles.

The students travel to the Sierra Nevada
Lefton wanted to start the tour with an overview of the geography of the state. The school trip begins with a visit to Mammoth Mountain, the site of the ancient volcano that erupted about 57,000 years ago. The students then head to nearby Lake Tahoe, another geographic wonder – a large and deep mountain lake, located at an altitude of about 600 meters on the Nevada-California border. While visiting the area, students will also visit the Coloma Valley, the site where the gold was first discovered. This discovery triggered in 1849 from the California gold rush.

Tour of Sacramento and the Bay of San Francisco
After spending a day in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the school group travels west to Sacramento to visit the California State Railroad Museum, where they learn more about the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Here begins the first of two educational exercises on the journey with an information search. Students work in pairs to find specific information in the museum. The winners receive Target Gift Cards. During their visit to Sacramento, students will also visit the California State Capitol building for insights and insights into the state government.

Next up is the San Francisco Bay, where students visit the Alcatraz Island Jail by boat, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, visit Fort Point (a Civil War site), visit the Maritime National Historic Park and a tour of Chinatown. In the evening, the student group dines in a restaurant at Fishermen's Wharf.

Santa Cruz and Monterey
The next day, the school group from the San Francisco area moves south to visit Santa Cruz, where they see one of the redwood forests of California and stop in Monterey, California's first capital. Here, students look at the Mexican era in California's history, visit the Monterey Aquarium, and see the Big Sur coastline from the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve vantage point.

A student trip through a mission from the 18th century

On the way back to Los Angeles, the bus stops in Morro Bay, where a visit to the Natural History Museum provides a visual and educational overview of the coastal region. At their last stop, they will visit Mission La Purisima, a wonderfully preserved example of a mission as it was in 1800. Part two of the search for information takes place in La Purisima, where students are instructed during their stay to learn the history of the mission.

Competing for a seat on the California Tour

Due to funding constraints, not all Maclay Middle School students can participate in this fellowship-funded trip. So Lefton and the Andersons launched an academic competition with winners who got a place on the California tour. The competition helps them to aim for better grades and also includes the lucky element. Students receive tickets for a draw for each acceptable grade in A, B and C. "The more grades they receive in the first semester, the more tickets they'll need to submit to the draw," says Lefton. From all submissions, 14 names are drawn, and these happy students travel to their home state.

This unique journey was initiated because a history teacher wanted to develop an educational tour that enabled students to actively learn about their home state. The California tour is ambitious at all locations. Students studying California history, geography, and social studies will benefit from a trip like this or something similar. The tour could be reduced to three or four days rather than five or six, and still offer many learning opportunities.

For more information on planning a student trip to California, visit or email