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For Megan Hayes, Band Director for grades five through 12 at Elmwood Local Schools in Bloomdale, Ohio, ETI has been a fixture in her life ever since she herself was a high school student.

“My travel experiences with ETI began back in my high school band days at Clay Senior High School in Oregon, Ohio,” Hayes said. “We traveled to Florida in 1996 and Washington, DC in 1998. Both of these trips were amazing experiences and as I was studying to become a music educator, my picture hung on the ETI displays at conventions, such as OMEA and Midwest!”

When passing the ETI booth, Hayes couldn’t help but spark a conversation.

“In that moment, I pointed myself out on the photo to Kim, and then every year we both looked forward to me stopping by to view my picture!” Hayes said. “That relationship stuck with me greatly that even as a college student ETI felt strongly about developing a professional contact and made me feel important.”


ETI EducatorFeature MeganHayes Web2


Those moments at the ETI booth are where Hayes remembers making her connections for her own student travel trip, which have included high school students in grades nine through 12.

“I have now taken five trips as a band director with my students through ETI, with three of those trips having been to Florida and two to NYC, with a trip planned to NYC with my current band in June of 2024,” Hayes said, noting the purpose of her trips have been for students to perform and experience big city life or amusement parks.

While in Florida, Hayes and her students spent time at Universal Studios, as well as Disney parks with marching performances at Magic Kingdom or Epcot and participating in the Disney Imagination Campus instrumental clinics. Their time in NYC was jam-packed with stellar tours and experiences, from Liberty and Ellis Island and Carnegie Hall to Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

“We also saw the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and are looking forward to seeing Aladdin in June 2024!” Hayes said. “Our band will perform on the deck of the USS Intrepid in the New York Harbor.”


ETI EducatorFeature MeganHayes Web3


One of Hayes’ favorite trip memories is how proud she felt of the amazing performance her students gave as they marched down Main Street U.S.A. at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

“To be chosen to play in that summer of 2022 was an honor in and of itself, knowing how challenging the audition process had become,” Hayes recalled. “But the pride in myself and my students was outstanding and to top it off with a flawless performance that was full of spirit and energy was the cherry on top! When we all got behind the gates, we gathered in a large group hug and just cried tears of joy!”

A lesson Hayes has learned from her trips with her students is to simply enjoy their reactions to their experiences and to soak up every moment.

“My number one goal in band is to build relationships and these experiences; taking kids out of their comfort zones and into new surroundings helps bring kids out of their shells,” she said. “It’s amazing to be witness to that!”


ETI EducatorFeature MeganHayes Web4


Hayes’ advice for other educators pondering student travel? Don’t be afraid! Just do it.

“Take the plunge and travel,” she urged. “It’s worth every penny and every moment you spend with your students! ETI will help with every moment so that even you, as director, get to sit back and enjoy the trips.”

Hayes shared more about why she feels strongly about working with ETI over the years.

“They are an honest, trustworthy and loyal company that has delivered on every promise!” she said. “They are great to work with and take my wants for a trip into consideration. ETI has been a wonderful company and I couldn’t imagine putting my kid’s safety and experiences into the hands of anyone else. I feel heard and important by everyone at ETI.”

Courtesy of ETI.

Photos Courtesy of Megan Hayes. 


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