One of the best parts about my job: the unique opportunities to do something new and exciting each summer. And God bless the summer for it too, because the good Lord knows I need new stimulation or I might just go crazy doing the same thing year after year. A common misconception held by many people is that teachers get paid vacation during the summer. That is untrue. I am a 10 month employee and as such, I spend two months of my year unemployed. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds either. I spend a lot of energy each year trying to make sure that my summer is not wasted, and as a result I do end up better off for that energy well spent.
A couple of days ago, my time and preparation finally paid off. I moved out of the alternate position for an NEH summer institute and became a recipient. In the course of two days, I was congratulated and presented with a number of documents to sign to accept the award. I did so immediately, because it meant I would spend 4 weeks in Santa Cruz, California studying Charles Dickens and adaptations of his works with 15 other educators from across the country at USC. I booked a flight and started to dream.
And with those dreams came infinite possibilities. That’s what I love about traveling. While it is unpredictable in a lot of stressful ways, it’s unpredictable in a lot of beautiful ways too. And ultimately this new experience will give me, you guessed it, something else to write about.
I have never been to California, but when I participated in an NEH summer program a few years ago in Colorado I fell in love with the West, so pushing further into the western part of the US is not at all distasteful. In fact, it makes my heart race with anticipation. Not only will I see things I have never seen, I will learn so many new and wonderful things and meet fascinating people who, hopefully, will be friends for life (Marjie and Jan—we still need a reunion tour; Alisha and Noelle—let’s do it, okay?).
The last two summers I spent working at a pool. I managed it, worked with teenagers and learned things about myself I didn’t know; this summer I’ll expect just as much, but in a uniquely different way. And that unique opportunity to discover more about myself and others is what is so great about being unemployed for two months
And I will write about it all.