RJ Reynolds trailers, too cramped?


Photo provided by Benton Sullivan

Here’s a look outside of one of the trailers where students learn everyday.

Benton Sullivan, Staff Writer

We’ve had our trailers on the RJ Reynolds campus for quite some time. The history building could not initially accommodate 1,700 students, so mobile trailers were set up around campus. Although the trailers are cramped, RJR’s dynamic teachers have done an excellent job of creating a welcoming learning atmosphere.

    “Even though it is in a mobile unit, and we have dynamic teachers that can make things happen anywhere,” Principal Calvin Freeman said. “I know of a teacher who is teaching 36 kids in one trailer, which creates a tough learning environment, but the kids in that space have done really well adjusting, so it speaks to the resilience of our students.”

   Even though the mobile units aren’t flawless, the faculty members who teach classes nevertheless maintain a positive attitude, which speaks highly of RJR’s teachers.

    “It’s really my job here to make this the best possible learning space,” AP Psychology teacher Kevin Hamilton said. “Every place is going to have some pros and cons, so I really have to focus on the pros and mitigate the cons as much as possible.”

   Mr. Freeman wants to improve the trailers in any way he can, despite the fact that classes and teachers have such a positive outlook.

    “I would like to see them power washed on the outside to [get] rid the mold and green stuff,” Freeman said. “I also wish that we could add an additional panel to make the space a little bigger to create some comfort. One of the things that need to happen for our deaf and hard-of-hearing staff members is that we need to put some emergency things in place. Some things have been put in place, but we continue to look for other things to enhance the trailers.”

   Even though the trailers are compact, the vast tables many kids share result in more social learning. This has enhanced student engagement throughout the year.

    “Due to the trailers and these big tables that are shared, I feel like there’s a lot of engagement with the students,” Hamilton said. “Students seem to be willing to engage with each other, and that’s probably all because we are in tight quarters.” 

   The mobile units have gone above and beyond this year in overcoming the challenges of learning there. Despite the great opinions of the trailers, the faculty still wants to make the mobile units as good as they can be.

    “Of course, we don’t want big groups out there like 36 kids,” Freeman adds. “That’s something that we have to rethink operationally and make sure we get things in place in order for smaller classes to be able to work better out there. The dynamic teachers can make the space everything they need it to be.”