By Ralph Kerr
Another school year has ended, students are free for the summer, teachers and other school staff are on vacation and school is closed until September. These are the assumptions held by many people. They are however, false assumptions.
What does go on at school over the summer? What do people who work for the school do during the summer? A simple answer would be “many things.” The custodial staff thoroughly cleans every single classroom and hallway. This means moving desks, chairs and other movable furniture and materials into the hallways, scrubbing floors, cleaning carpets, washing windows and blinds, dusting, painting if necessary, cleaning everything and then moving everything back into the classroom. If you were to stop into the school during the summer and see the disruption you might wonder if the school will ever get back to its normal state. The fact that it does is a tribute to the hard work of the custodians and cleaners.
Superintendents, principals, full-time secretarial and business office persons also work throughout the summer. These folks spend the early part of the summer wrapping up the recently concluded school year. This involves completing various reports, updating student’s records and preparing state aid forms. Once these items are completed, preparation begins for the next school year. New textbooks and teaching materials have to be ordered and checked in. Activity calendars, “Welcome Back” newsletters, renewal of federal and state grant applications and creating new payroll records become the focus of the work. In school districts where there have been layoffs or resignations a great deal of time is spent on a variety of personnel issues.
Most teachers are not on the school payroll during the summer, unless they are teaching summer school. Many of them continue to work however attending conferences and training sessions and planning for the next school year. Some take on summer jobs like house painting or working in a variety of situations. It is very common to have teachers begin to return to their classroom once the rooms have been cleaned, to begin decorating the rooms for the fall. Many younger teachers spend much of their summer attending required graduate classes as part of the process to obtain their master’s degree, which is required for permanent certification.
Students have a change of pace during the summer. Some attend Summer School; others attend various recreation programs, camps, hold summer jobs, or just hang out. Despite what students may tell you, they also spend some time dreaming about returning to school in the fall. By mid-August the high school athletic teams begin their practices, so coaches, generally teachers and student athletes return to school for at least half a day, five days a week for practice.
School board members are also busy during the summer. In early July, boards are required to hold their Reorganizational Meeting. At this meeting newly elected members take their oath of office and assume their responsibilities. The annual election of board officers takes place and various annual appointments are made. Planning for the school year, which usually involves development of goals and objectives for the board and superintendent, also occurs during the summer. New Board members are required to participate in state mandated training programs on such topics as school finances and responsibilities.
Meanwhile administrators and guidance counselors are busy finalizing student and teacher schedules and class rosters. Transportation staff is putting the final touches on bus routes. Before anyone realizes it Labor Day has rolled around and school begins again.
I don’t know about you but I feel like the summer just disappeared before my eyes. Let’s enjoy the summer days we all have left.
Dr. Ralph Kerr is the President of Teaching and Learning Institute. If you would like more information about the Teaching and Learning Institute please contact us at www.whyrun.org or call us at 585-567-2080.