Last year at this time I had no idea what my summer would be like, having been freshly selected as North Carolina's Teacher of the Year. I knew that I would be working all summer (NC TOYs immediately become 12 month employees - for the rest of their natural lives...) but I wasn't sure what I would be doing. As it turns out last summer wasn't much different from the remainder of my Teacher-of-the-Year-year with lots of speaking engagements, board meetings, presentations, workshops, etc.
This year I have a better idea of my summer plans, and I have some really cool things going on. But I have to tell you, cool things aside, I feel a twinge of envy reading classroom teachers' (and students') Facebook countdowns to the end of school: "four days left!" I remember all too well that excitement (I always encourage the entire faculty to line up and do the can-can as our buses leave the lot on the last day.) And I remember those summers when my own kids were little - we'd be by the pool every day, cheering on the swim team...at the beach...sleeping late...
When schools first began to have computers in the mid 90's, teachers were allowed to "check out" a desktop for the summer. I would load that monstrous machine in the back of my car, along with a printer that fed paper with holes-along-the-side, so that my kids could practice word processing. As it turns out, they mostly practiced the game Oregon Trail. They actually got pretty good at it, while I always got bitten by a rattlesnake or died of malaria.
While thoughts of those fun summers "off" are etched in my memory, this summer I will be accompanying fifteen teachers and the Center for International Understanding on a trip to Denmark. We'll be visiting schools there, studying Denmark's wind-energy, and staying with a Danish family. I'm most excited about visiting Odense, the city of Hans Christian Andersen's birth (he's called H.C. Andersen there.) I have many memories of the story of The Little Matchgirl: my great grandmother, who was a school teacher in a one room school house, used to tell me that story when I was a little girl. I'm also looking forward to visiting the Kronborg Castle in Elsinore - Hamlet's castle! (This English major will probably cry.)
My next big adventure will be to reunite with the State Teachers of the Year in Nashville, Tennessee as we convene at the National Forum on Education. Clayton Christensen, author of Disrupting Class, will be speaking, along with other engaging presenters, but we'll also fit in time for site-seeing in Music City!
And last, again with the State Teachers of the Year, I'll be able to play pretend - and this time I'll be an astronaut! We're going to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. I've heard that this is an amazing experience and that we get to float around in zero gravity, among other things.
So...yes, I'll be doing some wonderful things this summer, but even so, I'll miss those lazy, crazy days. Last weekend my granddaughter and I played together on one of the first really warm days, one that ended with a thunderstorm that frightened Taylor. I told her we'd just turn up the music really loud to drown out the thunder.
Then we danced.
Later, after Taylor went home, the following poem found its way to my Writer's Notebook:
an apricot sun
in the backyard
all you heat haters
in the air conditioned
a blue-tailed salamander
a waggy, spotted-tongue
the storms away
("turn up the music, Nana!")
in the summer,
made for children