Traveling teachers

Lily Rulnick, Reporter

For a lot of students, it’s hard to imagine teachers having lives outside of school. But during the summer, teachers, administrators and other faculty members change their routines and claim new titles for the two and a half month break. 

Whether changing up daily practices means checking their email less frequently, eating lunch at home or even waking up an hour later, teachers’ lives look very different during the summer than during the school year. 

High school biology teacher Melissa Andrew changed up her daily routine during the summer by allowing herself to sleep later than her usual wake up time. 

“That was the biggest difference because I got up at five a.m. [during the school year], and I got up probably closer to seven or eight [in the summer],” Andrew said.

Andrew said she appreciates this opportunity to rest during the summer because she “feel[s] like teachers usually work outside of their contracted hours for the year,” so the break allows teachers and other faculty members to “recharge and rest.”

But sleeping in isn’t all that Andrew had on her agenda. In addition to teaching biology, Andrew will co-teach the newly introduced Ecology and Climate Science course. She spent a good amount of her summer creating a curriculum for the course as well as enhancing the biology curriculum. 

Middle school Jewish text and Hebrew teacher Aviva Gershman also had her hands full this summer. She ran the Hebrew Immersion program at the Ramah Day Camp in Germantown called “Sha’ar.” 

“I feel like it’s really perfect for me,” Gershman says. “It’s totally in my wheelhouse because I love teaching Hebrew and I love speaking Hebrew. And [I] want to focus on connecting American Jews with Israeli Jews … And I want to really bridge, you know, what is kind of a growing divide, and I want to [erase] that divide. So Hebrew is really, for me, the best way to do that.” 

Gershman said that many members from the Jewish Text department, including middle school Toshba teachers Rachel Meytin and Marc Silberstein continued to work alongside Gershman during the summer at the Ramah Day Camp. 

Aside from revising various projects and scouting biblical texts that could be incorporated to her curriculum, Gershman didn’t plan on gearing up for the new school year until Staff Week arrived in mid-to-late August. 

Dean of Experiential Leadership and Service Learning Tori Ball has a similar system, as she often doesn’t return home until the week before the school year starts. 

“I am a person who transitions very quickly,” Ball says. “… I’m often sad at the start of the school year, not about starting school but feeling kind of stuck at home, if that makes sense. Feeling like I can’t adventure as much … I often like to at the end of summer go to Ocean City or Rehoboth, even for just a day or something, because I feel like that makes me very excited to be back in Maryland.”

To get as much adventure as she can get out of the summer, Ball “completely detach[es] from [her] normal life,” and she emphasizes the importance of the shift to “prioritizing adventure over productivity.” During the previous summer, Ball chose to detach herself by living outdoors on the John Muir Trail in California for three weeks.

“So a fun fact about me is that I never plan my summer in advance,” Ball says. “But I will certainly be driving cross country and I will go on some sort of wilderness adventure along the way. I never plan in advance. I always go on an adventure.”

Ball ended up choosing to travel to the Tahoe Rim Trail, which is a 175-mile circuit through the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. Similar to last summer’s adventure, Ball carried all of her items in a backpack and camped out as she progressed through the trail. 

While Ball, Gershman and Andrew all mentioned how much they love teaching, each one of them recognizes that having a summer break is a crucial component to having a successful school year. 

“I think some people are uncomfortable having a lot of free time,” Ball said. So I feel very strongly about the importance of summer and enjoying every last drop of summer.”