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March 24, 2022

Field Trips to the Racetrack

Field Trips to the Racetrack

Teachers always deserve more credit than they get.

That’s especially true for teachers who go above and beyond to make the subject interesting for their students. The students in Anna Schimenti Colby’s third-grade classroom at Riviera Elementary School in Palm Bay, FL, get a teacher who does just that – with a very fast curriculum.

Mrs. Colby (as her students call her) began racing Formula F in SCCA at age 16 with her dad, 20-year-member John Schimenti, staying close to their home in the Southeast, competing at tracks like Sebring International Raceway, Daytona International Speedway and more. Colby ran the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Daytona in 2015 as her one and only appearance at the event.

But her love for racing isn’t a secret amongst her students.

“My classroom has my race stuff in it,” Colby said. “I have a corner of my room with trophies and pictures. My background, because they can always see a projection of my computer, is me and my dad racing. My kids always like talking about it. We always share something that’s good or something we’re thankful for, and I talk about racing with them. They know that’s what I do, and I send home an ‘about me’ paper at the beginning of the year, so the parents know.”

But we all remember two years ago. Remote learning became a very real and very difficult concept, especially for elementary students. The school principal issued a challenge to the teachers – find literally anything you can do to grab the interest of the class.

“During COVID, we couldn’t do field trips,” she said. “That was very hard, because as a kid you always look forward to field trips. One day, my dad was going to be at Sebring. I wished I could take them there…our tech person suggested we could project it. I surprised my class with it, and they really liked it.”

Her dad held his phone as they walked around Sebring. He answered questions about racing, showed them his car and others and, in general, gave them a flash of a return to normality. “He showed them around and let them ask questions,” she said.

The kids, of course, loved it. One shouted, “Mrs. Colby, why are you here? You should be there!”

It’s become a tradition in the past two years for Mrs. Colby’s class to go to the racetrack, at least virtually. And for good reason – STEM opportunities are all around in racing. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – it’s all there.

For those in a low-income area like the students in Palm Bay, there’s no telling what may make an impression at a young age. Mrs. Colby is ultimately hoping racing will do it.

And while she teaches, she’ll of course continue to race.

Photo By Anna Schimenti

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