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Trinity Christian School Educator Donna McKenna celebrates trailblazing legacy of student travels to Europe

Trinity Christian School Math and Science Teacher, Donna McKenna, has successfully taken students on countless European academic study tours since 1999. 2023 was her last official trip for the European Study Abroad trip ,which is regularly taken by the TCS Juniors and Seniors. And in this article, she celebrates the educational impact her trips have had on her students' lives over the years.
Donna McKenna and Trinity Christian Junior and Senior class pose in front of the Colusseum at Rome, Italy.

There exists a globally shared sentiment that children are the future of our world.


And if that sentiment holds true, then it is imperative that they have the necessary life experiences which help them become well-rounded individuals, while navigating the path towards adulthood.

One of the ways many teachers, educators, and parents seek to cultivate this well-roundedness in their youngsters is to encourage them to travel often.

And that is because travel not only gives them the opportunity to explore different cultures and societies, but it helps them broaden their inner horizons in the process.

Now, why is this important?

Well, broadening one’s inner horizons will help promote greater empathy and understanding.

And having more empathy and understanding present within the current world of youngsters will promote a healthier world for future generations to co-exist in.

Donna McKenna, Math and Science Teacher at Trinity Christian School, understands these sentiments clearly.


McKenna has been a Math and Science teacher at TCS since 1995 and has loved traveling ever since her younger years.

“I have always loved both reading and history, and I have always wanted to visit the places that I read about in books,” she shared.

She got her first taste of travel at age 13 when she flew to visit her grandfather’s Villa in Italy. And from that moment on, she became enamored with the wonder that travel brought into her world.

Further down the line, her love of travel made its way into her career as teacher when she approached the TCS headmaster in 1997 for a European travel excursion for her students.


“My desire for school travel started whimsically, as I wanted to travel abroad with my children who were TCS juniors and seniors at the time," McKenna said. "My oldest daughter was in the Class of 2000. So the very first class which got to go to Europe was the 1999-2000 class. I simply brought the idea to the school officials, and the headmaster at the time loved the idea. He encouraged me to do it, while also accompanying us on our inaugural trip. And after that first trip, we were able to continue taking our junior and senior classes to Europe from that point forward.”

The TCS junior and senior classes have traveled to Europe every odd numbered year, since it's first trip in 1999. (So 1999, 2001....2023; with the exception of 2021 due to Covid). Furthermre, the group has regularly used Education First Tours (“EF Tours”) for its successful travels to Europe.

From an educator’s perspective, McKenna believes that regular travel has the potential to broaden one’s inner and outer horizons.


She believes this mental, cultural expansion is especially important for students who are nearing adult age (i.e., 17-18 years old).

She believes that, “for junior and senior high school students especially, it remains the best time for them to travel. They are old enough to appreciate the experience, but young enough to not have the full weight of adult responsibilities present within their lives.”

McKenna cites multiple examples of how travel has changed her students.


One student loved the excursion so much that it inspired him to join the army for the opportunity to travel more often. And for other students, it has allowed them to blend their individual interests and passions with the native culture of the area.

For example, one student who was a ballet dancer got the opportunity to attend a Royal Opera House in London, while another student visited his ancestral grounds in Scotland for the chance to pose for a picture wearing his family’s ceremonial Kilt.

Thus, not only are life-long memories made, but young minds are burst wide open to the wonders of the foreign world.

Mckenna confirms this thought by reminiscing that,

“our kids get to experience a real perspective of the world, better than they could learn from any book or online photos. They get to see where history was made and experience other cultures in the process. Frankly, they learn to deal with a different language, a different currency, and learn to immerse themselves successfully into a new foreign culture”.

Regarding their fundraising efforts for their Europe trips, the TCS junior and seniors have a variety of ways for which locals can contribute to their European endeavors.

They work concessions at Georgia Southern football and basketball games, participate in a “Hot Lunch” program at TCS, participate in manual labor such as pruning grapevines at local farms and help harvest chestnuts at McKenna’s farm.

The group also hosts various yard sales throughout the year to raise money and gain local support. Therefore, if you are interested in supporting the TCS junior and senior class in their educational travels in 2025, please support these various fundraisers.

McKenna has many thanks to give regarding the success of the TCS trips to Europe.

She would like to thank the TCS parents who have helped with the fundraising for the trips throughout the years. She would also like to thank the TCS teachers for allowing their students to go on this trip, amidst the heat of testing season. She would finally like to thank the Trinity Christian School Administration for allowing the junior and senior classes to consistently take this academic study tour every couple of years.


Donna Mckenna is a STAR Student Teacher multiple times over and remains highly respected in the local community as trailblazer and advocate for local student travel abroad. 

Finally, McKenna has effectively retired her position as the chief planner and executor of the European trips, and has transferred her position over to a very capable successor.