Learning About Service: Firefighters Host First Graders at the Pajaro Station

Recently, the Mount Madonna School (MMS) first grade students visited the Pajaro Valley Fire Station in Watsonville to learn about its day-to-day operations and the essential services firefighters provide to the community.

The students were welcomed by Fire Chief Mike Harris, father of first grader Oceana, and his team on duty, firefighters Chris Tostado, Mike Garboni, and Scott Williams.

“First graders began the year learning about each other and sharing about themselves with others in the class, as part of our effort to create a classroom community,” commented teacher Cassia Laffin. “We then expanded our learning outward into our own communities, helping students differentiate between the cities that we live in and guiding them to develop empathy for the work that others do. I want to promote a respect and understanding for firefighters, citizens in our communities that give so much to keep our families and homes safe.”

The students seemed to enjoy their tour of the station, and the opportunity to get hands’ on with some of the equipment.

“It was fun spraying the fire hose,” shared first grader Tamatoa Toulemonde.

“I liked going inside the firetruck,” said classmate Jules Moutafian. First graders Cala Watson and Luiza Ocampo-Sobkoviak said they liked seeing the firefighters’ living quarters and recreation area.

Following their tour of the fire station, the students headed to nearby Gizdich Ranch, where they enjoyed some freshly baked pie before returning to school.

One aspect of the curriculum around this field trip was to help students differentiate between goods (Gizdich pies, for examples) and services (the essential work of firefighters).

As part of their classroom preparation for this learning adventure, students drew pictures, labeling goods and services; had discussions about their parents and the jobs they do, and whether these jobs are goods or service-related. Students even filled out job applications and wrote down the job they were applying for and why they chose that profession.

“Having students talk about themselves is important,” noted Laffin, “and goes hand-in-hand with listening to others. Learning about one another’s lifestyle and job, and learning to imagine life in their shoes – or in this instance, firefighters’ boots – is invaluable. Empathy building is a huge part of Mount Madonna School’s implicit curriculum.”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications, [email protected]

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a community of learners dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.