Just what do teachers do over the summer?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2014

Students aren’t the only ones who are out of school for the summer. Rowan-Salisbury teachers also have a wide variety of plans for their vacation — from trips, to professional development to rest and relaxation.
Carson theater teacher and the district’s 2013 Teacher of the Year Alex Reynolds hopped on a plane to Germany earlier this week.
Each year, the Robertson Foundation sends the teacher of the year along on the University of North Carolina Center for International Understanding’s annual trip.
This year’s 10-day trip is to Germany and focuses on renewable energy, technology and the nation’s education system.
“Even if the trip is not focused on my area of expertise, going is just a good example of what I tell my kids all the time! ‘Try new things and find what makes you happy!’ ” Reynolds said on his blog devoted to the trip.
He went on to joke that the best-case scenario is that he comes home with tons of ideas for his classroom, and the worst-case scenario is that he spends a week and a half feasting on German food and making his friends jealous.
Reynolds isn’t the only teacher traveling out of the country over the summer.
Jordan Farmer, an exceptional children’s teacher at Southeast Middle School, is heading to Costa Rica for a mission trip.
“When I was in college, I studied abroad there for two months and I fell in love with the country,” she said.
Although she’s never been on a mission trip, Farmer said she couldn’t say no when the opportunity came up. The trip gives her an opportunity to share her faith, practice her Spanish skills and go back to the country she fell in love with.
In addition to investing in the lives of Costa Ricans, Farmer will also have the opportunity to pour herself into the lives of the high school students she’ll be accompanying.
Greg Stienbarger, a science teacher at Knox Middle School said he’s looking forward to having “one of the more calm summers” he’s had in a while.
For the first time in eight years, he won’t be doing any classwork of his own this summer. Stienbarger received his education specialist degree in May.
Stienbarger will be attending the International Society for Technology in Education’s national conference with 150 Rowan-Salisbury administrators, technology facilitators and teachers.
He’s also holding weekly camp for Knox’s Science Olympiad team to practice the skills necessary for their build events.
In addition to practicing a time-consuming skill, Stienbarger said the camp is a good opportunity for him to build relationships with his students.
“Relationships are a big part of what we do,” he said. “Without the relationship, the connection really isn’t there.”
While many teachers welcome a break from their students over the summer, Stienbarger said, “I really enjoy being with my kids.”
Besides, he joked, having six children of his own, “it’s almost as if nothing’s really changed.”
Stienbarger also plans to catch up on some reading.
“I try to spread out my reading a little bit,” he said, adding that he’s reading books for both professional development and pleasure.
Currently, he’s reading books on literacy, leadership and some J.R.R. Tolkien for good measure.
Kevin Aycock’s summer is filled with professional development, and he hopes to add even more to his schedule.
Aycock teaches history and civics and economics at Rowan County Early College.
He will be joining Stienbarger at the International Society for Technology in Education conference next week. This week, he’s in Concord for the North Carolina New Schools project.
“They’re the organization that coordinates the early colleges around the state,” he said.
He also hopes to be accepted to the district’s problem-based learning training that will be held at Horizons Unlimited later this summer.
Of course, no summer break would be complete without some relaxation. Aycock just came back from a week at Ocean Isle with his family.
Hannah Fisher may only have a few months experience as a teacher with Rowan-Salisbury schools, but she’s determined to soak up all she can through professional development this summer.
Fisher taught fourth grade during the 2013-14 school year at Hanford-Dole Elementary School, but will be in a third-grade classroom next year.
“I just recently passed the teaching praxis for ESL,” she said, adding that she wants to broaden her knowledge in other areas as well.
Fisher is reading the literacy framework book given to all elementary and middle school teachers at the district’s laptop deployment, as well as playing around with her new computer in an attempt to find new ideas for her classroom next year.
Fisher said she also plans to spend as much time as possible with her 16 year old sister, the rest of her family, her friends and her boyfriend.
“I’m trying to go on as many mini vacations as possible,” she added.
So far she’s been to the zoo and the beach. Later this summer Fisher plans to go to Las Vegas.
All this talk of summer plans makes me want to grab a good book, lather on the sunscreen and head to the beach. What about you? What are your summer plans?

Education reporter Jeanie Groh can be reached at jeanie.groh@salisburypost.com or 704-797-4222.