Disappearing for Three Months

Story by Michael Lanoie

Artwork by Caroline McNally

Every day at Bellarmine College Prepatory, located in San Jose, California, the bell rings at 3:00. On this day however, the bell rings at 1:15. Jim Keenan sat on his desk, feet dangling, starting at the clock of Mr. Reyerson’s classroom.

He waited anxiously for the bell to ring signifying the start of summer. He waited anxiously to be away from the routines, the homework, and especially the teachers. He waited anxiously to have three months of not seeing the people that assign homework, give tests, and evaluate his performance.

Unfortunately for Keenan, his next-door neighbor is none other than Mr. Reyerson.

“Seeing my teacher during summer only reminds me of school,” said Keenan, “you forget that they have lives out of school”

For many students, teachers are school.

With the end of the semester coming up Chapman University students are making preparations for their summers. Unknowingly to a lot of students, teachers are also preparing for summer. Students and teachers responded to questions about the teacher-summer relationship.

Students responded to short questions asking about their knowledge of their professors’ summer plans. Of the 150 that responded over seventy-five percent said that they didn’t know or didn’t care what their teachers’ plans for summer were.

Only a handful of students admitted to knowing what their teachers will do over their break.

Of those students, sixty-eight percent of them said that they would most likely ignore their professors if they were to see them over summer.

“You spend anywhere between 3 to 9 months with your teachers,” said Chapman biology senior Kelly Gehris, “they are pretty much the last people you want to see over when you are on break.”

Gehris mentioned that the majority of her relationships with professors were more professional rather than friendly.

Paige Davis, a senior chemistry student, goes out of her way on creating bonds with her teachers. Her positive relationships allow her to talk to teachers about their summer plans.

“When you actually talk to them about their summer, you find out that they are doing interesting things,” said Davis, “you find out that they are interesting people that you want to be friends with.”

Teachers feel like they are interesting as well.

15 Chapman professors and 15 teachers from other school were asked about their summers and how students perceive them. Most of the teachers agreed in thinking that their summers were interesting.

“We are people too, we have lives,” said Chapman Philosophy teacher Casey Hall, “sometimes my summer sounds more interesting than some of my students.”

Hall spent her most recent summer vacationing in Europe leaving all school related activities behind.

On the other hand Lynda Hall (no relation), Chapman English professor, uses her summer to prepare for upcoming semesters.

“It makes life during the school year a lot easier,” said Hall, “I make lesson plans, read the texts and take notes and research to make the semester go smoothly.”

Similarly, former Bellarmine physics teacher Dave Cobb didn’t let summer keep him from teaching. Cobb taught several summer school classes leaving him with very little summer vacation time for himself.

“Teaching wasn’t just my job, it was my life,” said Cobb, “you don’t see doctors taking three months off every year.”

Of the 30 asked, only 17 preferred to work during the summer. The other 13 relied on distribution of their paychecks or partner income to last them through the summer. As necessary as it is for teachers to have a break from the stress and action of school they may still need income for the time they aren’t working.

Former part time Chapman English professor Cristy Bruns is one of those teachers who relies on partner income for the summer. Without being on a tenure program, Bruns was left to do personal projects while dependent on her spouse’s salary.

“When the teaching load is high like it is at most institutions, the summer becomes the main opportunity for research, writing, and publishing,” said Bruns, “most institutions require that even if they aren’t paying you to do so.”

For teachers the school year doesn’t end when it does for students. For example at Chapman, finals week ends May 23rd signifying the start of summer vacation for students. While students are traveling to China or starting interesting internships professors are still grading exams and projects and determining final grades. Even after that they have to figure out what classes they will be teaching in the fall.

Teachers need their summers as much as students do.

Except for Reyerson. He spends most of his summer sitting on his porch shirtless waving to Keenan anytime he comes home.


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