CHILLICOTHE— When the school year starts again, students will tell stories about how they spent their summer. Some may have gone on vacation or summer camp and some may have gone to the local parks. But what did the teachers do during the summer holidays? Did you enjoy a relaxing summer or were you busy planning for the next school year?
Kelly Congrove, who teaches English, journalism and yearbooks at Zane Trace High School, uses her summers to spend time with her four children and work towards her next goal. In the summer, Congrove often plans her day like a school day. This includes the courses for the second master’s degree, doctor’s appointments and any meetings.
As a teacher, Congrove can have the best of both worlds as a working mom and full-time mom. She says the biggest difference over the summer is that she’s no longer responsible for 104 teenagers, but for her four younger children, all aged 10 or younger.
Congrove also runs a page on Teachers Pay Teachers, a website that allows teachers to sell resources they create to other teachers. This helps her to have passive income throughout the summer. Congrove gets a notification on her phone every time one of her resources is purchased. This shows her that teachers often prepare materials for the next school year in the summer.
“Teachers don’t just sit around doing nothing in the summer,” Congrove said. “There’s a lot of planning going on.”
Lately, she has had to set limits to her planning because she was spending too much time and energy planning and not enough time recharging her batteries. Because of this, she has established a strict rule of taking July off and trying not to think about work.
After taking some time off, she will look back on the past school year to see if the older students she has taught have achieved the goals they have set, whatever those goals may be. She also looks at the things she needs to teach and finds ways to apply them to the real-world goals that students are pursuing.
“I love to see kids succeed in whatever they think of as success,” Congrove said.
Shelly Morton also teaches at Zane Trace, she teaches both 9th grade physics and the Academic Aid program. This program helps ensure that students are able to obtain all of the high school credits required for graduation. She says she often looks forward to summer almost as much as the students do.
During the summer, Morton tries to relax and recover from the burnout many teachers face after teaching every day for nine months. Summertime also allows her to spend more time with her young children, who she says enjoy being around. In between looking after her children, Morton also spends time giving her house a thorough cleaning, as much of this has been put off during the school year.
Morton can’t relax all summer as she takes this time to improve as a person and as a teacher by taking online classes and re-evaluating her lesson plans. Morton is constantly changing her classes and looking for new ways to teach effectively. When updating her plans, Morton considers feedback she’s received from students on how they think the class went and new ideas she’s learned during her summer classes.
“I’m always working to find new things,” Morton said. “I will [students] to learn and not really realizing that they are learning.”
She also spends part of her summer teaching summer schools for students who need extra help or are catching up after falling behind during the pandemic. She enjoys being able to help the students who need it. Morton has been teaching for 17 years now and continues to worry about her former students in hopes that they will succeed in life.
“Just because we don’t see the kids every day doesn’t mean we don’t think about them,” Morton said.
Instructor Donna Patrick of the Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center doesn’t get much rest as she spends her summers visiting salons and visiting students who are on internships to gain hands-on experience. In their program, interns have the opportunity to end their schooling early and thus enter the chosen field more quickly.
Patrick visits the interns and the salons they work at at various times throughout the summer. When she visits, she sees how the students are doing and what they are learning. These visits also give her the opportunity to connect with the local business partners who let interns from the school into their shops.
“I like to go out and visit our local business partners,” said Patrick.
She also spends her summer preparing for next year and talking to her students about the materials they need for class.
“It never stops,” Patrick said of her job and her classes.
Shelby Reeves is a reporter for the Chillicothe Gazette. You can email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Shelby_Reeves_