School is out . . . and the work still goes on

June 15, 1992|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

George Appleby will grade calculus exams in South Carolina.

Ken Katzen will repair homes in Kentucky.

Patricia Neidhardt will plant marsh grass on Wye Island.

Sister Mary Anne Smith will turn Spanish words into English ones -- and vice versa -- in Jamaica.

Robert Green will be back in uniform.

And Ken Rockelein will be on the phone, soliciting money for the Special Olympics.

How do teachers spend their summer vacations? Count the ways. They are many.

Although people with 12-month jobs may think that teachers while away their summers, "almost none of them do," says Mr. Rockelein, who teaches biology at Chinquapin Middle School in Baltimore. Most teachers are motivated by money -- or, more precisely, the lack of it -- but some just find a do-nothing pace too slow after dealing with kids for months.

"As soon as it [vacation] starts, I'll be ready to come back," says Mr. Green, a fifth-grade teacher at Arnold Elementary School. But soon after dismissing his class for the summer, Mr. Green will become Staff Sgt. Green with the 108th U.S. Army Reserve Unit in Annapolis.

Although he has already fulfilled his two-week reserve requirement for the year, Mr. Green will be back in uniform for at least a few weeks, working locally at the Map Distribution Center. He hasn't made any other plans for summer employment because he thinks his Army days will be extended, due to staff cuts in his unit.

The summer months turn out to be a busman's holiday for many teachers. They find themselves quickly back in the classroom, teaching and learning -- doing stints in remedial summer school, enrichment courses and graduate level teachers' programs.

Some administrators, such as Albert Strickland, director of Baltimore's Polytechnic Institute, will be catching up and getting ahead. "I thought I had a summer vacation coming," he says, "but when I looked at the calendar, I had one day I could take off."

Even for those who spend vacations in school, Mr. Appleby's summer assignment may be too intense. "We sit around for six days and we read these calculus problems," says the calculus teacher at John Carroll High School in Bel Air.

He is one of about 300 high school and college calculus teachers who gather at Clemson University to grade 80,000 exams taken by high school students around the country in the Advanced Placement (for college credit) program. Mr. Appleby is returning to the South Carolina campus for his fifth year.

"They treat us very, very well. It's very collegial. It's like a summer camp for teachers," he says. "We discuss textbooks . . . share problems -- calculus, that is -- and math jokes." The Educational Testing Service pays the teachers a daily stipend, plus all expenses.

"At the end of the day, you are mentally drained," says Mr. Appleby, who has taught at the high school for 21 years. When he's finished grading papers, he will attend a calculus seminar at Clemson and vacation in Charleston, S.C., before coming home to set up the class schedule for September at John Carroll.

Ken Katzen's summer work is both mentally and physically taxing. "For 13 years my wife and I have taken teens to southern Appalachia to rebuild houses," he says. This year, he and his wife, Harriet, are in charge of a group of 55 -- 37 young people -- from two Columbia churches who are going to Perry County, Ky., as part of the Appalachian Service Project of the United Methodist Church.

Each crew of four works on one house for the week it is there, says Mr. Katzen, who teaches social studies and art in Howard County's Gateway School in Clarksville. "The houses we work on are often in dire need. Each year is full of surprises."

But there's more to the project than fixing rotting floors or leaking roofs. "You are really forming a relationship with the family that lives in that house. It's neat."

Though the group spends only one week working on the houses, Mr. Katzen and others work throughout the year raising money for transportation and materials. The service project provides food and lodging and some materials.

Patricia Neidhardt has been working much of this school year, too, to get to Wye Island for a week with 23 of her students from Broadneck Senior High School in Anne Arundel County. The group earned a $10,000 grant from Toyota and the National Science Teachers Association for an environmental project that she estimates will save Maryland $19,000.

She and about 30 others will spend next week on the island, planting marsh grass on the beach to prevent erosion and building and putting out bat houses and nest boxes for wood ducks. They will camp on the island, prepare their own food and have a variety of career and environmental programs in the evenings.

"I can't wait. The kids are really enthusiastic," says Mrs. Neidhardt, who teaches environmental science and marine biology. After her island experience, she'll be back in the classroom, teaching other teachers at Johns Hopkins University.

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