Team Outreach

Team Outreach

This is Ronnie Dreistadt, Curator of Education, with an update on our travels to the “Land of the Rising Sun”, otherwise known as Bardwell, Kentucky. Team Outreach (all two of us) headed as far west in Kentucky as you can go, visiting nine schools in four counties from December 9-11. As the former Outreach Educator, it was great for me to get back on the road and take the Kentucky Derby to students that otherwise may not have had an opportunity to learn about one of the great things that makes the Commonwealth special.  

Heather picked me up several hours before sunrise on a cold winter morning, and we drove through southern Indiana, crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky at Brandenburg. It was another couple of hours before we rolled into the parking lot of Central City Elementary, and Heather dropped me off with no time to spare – “Horse Tales”, “Mathin’ Around the Track” and “Economics and the Derby” encapsulated the next three hours in front of the 425 student body of Central City.  

There was just enough time for Heather to come whisk me away for a 10 minute lunch at Wendy’s, then head to Muhlenberg South Elementary, home of the Suns, for two programs to the Kindergarteners and First Graders.  

Heather taught in Greenville, first at Greenville Elementary, then at Ark Academy, a small Christian school. We met afterward, both gushing about what great kids and dedicated teachers we encountered throughout the day. We thought the staff at Wendy’s was extra nice too (and fast, thank goodness).  

After packing the Prius, we headed down the Western Kentucky Parkway to the wonderful river city, Paducah. Although my favorite Paducah restaurant, the Whaler’s Catch was closed, we dined at Shandies (recommended) before getting a good night’s sleep at the hotel.  

I’ve been to Lone Oak Elementary in Paducah several times, but it doesn’t matter. I get lost every. single. time. And if I visit next year, I’ll get lost again. It’s tradition. But I really enjoy Lone Oak – big groups, enthusiastic kids and a great staff. It always helps to have the music teacher in there too while I’m trying to lead the group in “My Old Kentucky Home”.  

Meanwhile, Heather taught in the next county south, Graves County, at another school we know well – Sedalia Elementary. Sedalia brings a group to see us at the Museum every year, so it’s always nice to return the favor. And if you’re wondering how this small town got its name, according to legend, there was a beautiful young woman named Dalia who lived in the area. When the local boys of the area asked where they were going, naturally the replied, to “See Dalia”.  

Our last day was spent in Carlisle County, just south of Cairo, Illinois, where the Ohio River empties into the Mississippi. It’s as far west as you can get. I taught two social studies programs, first to the middle school, then to the high school. Sometimes with large groups like this in a gym, it can be a “classroom management” nightmare. But I had extra strong hotel coffee that morning, and the students were so accommodating and engrossed in the Derby story – I walked out of Carlisle County High School on a high note. Heather felt the same way from her experience at the elementary school. And it’s a good thing – because it was a long, four and a half hour drive back to Louisville. With one stop – to the famous Pizza By the Pound in Paducah. The cheeseburger pizza – substituting ketchup and mustard for tomato sauce was something I had to try.   

Obviously by the picture, you can tell it was delicious. I’m getting hungry reminiscing about this pizza work of art.  

We have another trip schedule at the beginning of Derby Week to Owensboro, so be sure to check in again with Team Outreach!

Ronnie Dreistadt

Manager of Education Services for the Kentucky Derby Museum.