Classroom on wheels: Education for children of carnival workers

Posted at 5:26 AM, Oct 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-13 09:55:45-04

There are the thrilling rides with all the scares and screams, the fried foods and, of course, the games with all those prizes. It's packed at the Arizona State Fair, but just off the midway in the shadow of fun, there’s a little red schoolhouse where about a dozen kids are in class.

"Our families are on the road pretty much from the beginning of February until the beginning of November," said Kate Bishop. Bishop is a teacher in the one-room school.

She travels the country with RCS, the company behind the rides and most vendors at the fair. It's in the one-room class where the kids of all those 400-plus carnival workers go to school.

"Families were commuting to and from the fairs. Kids would fly out on Friday nights with their mom who had to come to work just for two days," said Bishop. 

Those parents are like Ben Pickett, who travels with the entertainment company, setting up in eight different cities around the country every year. 

"When we were in traditional school we were spending a lot of time flying back and forth from various different events," said Pickett. "That was stressful."

The students learn all of the traditional subjects and they do get homework, but the setting is anything but traditional.

Their weekend is Monday and Tuesday, when the fair is closed.

The actual classroom is on hydraulics so when it's off to the next city, the little red schoolhouse folds up and rolls away.