School employees spend summer working outside the classroom

Water taxi captain, clown among seasonal jobs

August 24, 2002|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

The water taxi's captain pushes on the throttle and eases the boat beside the dock.

"Don't forget about the test," Patrick Hundley cautions a young passenger, promising to quiz the boy about what he learned during the tour of Fort McHenry.

It's a warning the captain has given before. And it's a warning he will give many more times in the coming months. Now that the school year is starting up, he is going back to his regular job as a kindergarten teacher at Edgemere Elementary School in Baltimore County.

His piloting water taxis is among the quirkier vacation vocations, but not the only one.

When school starts again next week, some teachers, administrators and support staff will have interesting tales to tell about their summer exploits. Not just the returning students have something to talk about for their first show-and-tell.

"I'd recommend this [job] to more people," said Hundley, 42, of Baltimore, as he steered the water taxi through some light chop off of Fells Point one recent afternoon. "Matter of fact, I'd recommend this [job] to teachers because you get to meet a lot of people, and it's low-stress, except for the storms."

This is the third summer that Hundley has captained a water taxi. For him, it is a perfect way to marry his passion for water and need for summer employment. Growing up in Towson, Hundley used to ply the Middle River, where his father kept a boat. He went into teaching because his grandmother and mother taught, but he didn't lose his love for the water.

After Hundley's children were old enough to not need summertime supervision, he started studying for a captain's license.

"It was a tough test," Hundley said. But the months of study were worth it. "What a great way to pick up some extra money."

Although school workers may leave the schoolhouse behind come summertime, they cannot so easily relinquish their natural, instructional instincts.

Bob Bassett, director of dining services at Bryn Mawr School in North Baltimore, earns extra money in the summer by teaching skateboarding. Bassett, 29, of Parkville, started "B-Dub's Skatepark & Snowboard Tours" this summer, a business ferrying children to skateboarding venues in the area and offering them help perfecting their tailslides, heelflips and varials on the boards.

"Skateboarding is one of those things where you almost got to like pain a little bit because you're going to fall. But once you pick it up, you're going to love it forever. It's going to be with you," Bassett said.

Peter Cincotta, a mathematics resource teacher in the Baltimore County schools, also has a summer job that stemmed from the interests of his youth. He has been a part-time clown since he was 17. "It started out as just a job," the 38-year-old from Westminster said. "I had these skills, but I always wanted to perform in some way, and I didn't sing and dance."

So Cincotta, who knows how to juggle, donned an orange wig, red nose and bright, oversized outfit and became Juggles the Clown. He started working professionally at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. The first few years after moving to Maryland, he was a temporary office worker during his free summers. Then he found an agent.

The agent books Juggles the Clown for company picnics, Christmas parties and other corporate events. During the school year, he may dress up as Juggles at Halloween but mostly he puts clowning aside.

For some school employees, a summer job should be about as far away from educating as an F is from an A-plus.

Lin Cassell, who coordinates Title I programs and grants for the Baltimore County schools, spent two weeks in Alaska helping to build entryways to student housing and to renovate the chapel at the Alaska Bible College, far north of Anchorage.

"It's something completely different," said Cassell, 54, of Sykesville, who traveled to the remote spot as part of a church group.

Cassell traded her business attire for jeans and long-sleeve T-shirts to install siding and to sand and paint a pulpit. The long days left her bone-tired and sunburned.

It also made her more eager for the new school year to commence.

"When you do something outside your normal environment, you grow," Cassell said, proudly leafing through a photo album chronicling her two-week construction project.

"That's important because when we have the opportunity to stretch and learn and grow and be excited about learning, then that can help us convey the excitement about learning more effectively to our students."

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