What summer break?
Some teachers look forward to summer vacation when they can take a breather and relax.
For others, as soon as the school years ends, they hit the ground running to a part-time job, work on master’s degrees, workshops and preparing materials for the next school year.
Scott Reider, 33, was teaching a piano lesson with one of his students Friday afternoon. It was rescheduled so he could finish course work at Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea about making music meaningful to students with special needs.
Abigail Worstell, 10, of Devola, attentively followed the notes on her sheet music and played. When she finished, Reider explained to her where she could improve.
“It’s fun, and he helps me understand what I’m doing wrong,” Worstell said.
Besides the piano lessons for 15 students that will continue all summer, Reider said he will attend another session of training in a music classroom, work on a master’s degree in music education from Kent State University as well as serving as music director at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. He’ll also return to his job as music teacher at Putnam and Washington elementary schools in August.
He just completed his fourth year of teaching.
“Part of it is being on top of your game,” Reider said. “New teacher evaluations require Ohio teachers to demonstrate growth in our students.”
Teachers in the core fields of math, science, social studies and reading have assessments provided for them by the state, Reider said. Teachers in fields such as foreign language and music are required to develop their own assessments that will garner the data from those mandated assessments.
As a full-inclusion intervention specialist at Belpre Elementary School, Jennifer Wells, 37, works with special needs students within a classroom of other students. For the past two years she has worked mostly with a visually impaired student, now in the fifth grade.
She works in third and fifth grades and spends 90 minutes with the student in math.
Belpre City Schools already has a part-time teacher of the visually impaired, with whom Wells and other teachers worked to learn Braille. In her case, she learned more to help the student in math.
Wells has been taking a four-day Basic Nemeth class. Nemeth is the Braille code for math. She said she is working toward being the district’s teacher of the visually impaired and working with that student full-time.
“I gain the confidence I need to work with students,” Wells said. “I enjoy learning new things and meeting other educators in the field.”
Kris Hill, 48, of Reno, said she will take a course this summer to become highly qualified in math. She is already an intervention specialist in social studies, language arts and science at Marietta High School.
That training to become highly qualified is an intense, one-week class at Muskingum University in New Concord. The class involves pedagogy, including methods of working with math for the special needs students.
“It keeps you up to date with all the changes that are happening,” Hill said. “You want to make sure your students have just as much possibility to pass it as everyone else,” referring to the Ohio Graduation Test, which all Ohio students will have to pass before graduating through 2014.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, teachers can meet the federal Highly Qualified Teacher standards by being fully licensed and meeting a set of criteria.
The main drawback with all they have to do during the summer professionally is losing time with family, all three local educators said.
Reider said it involves time away from his wife and 3-year-old daughter as well as financial expense.
“It’s part of what we do as teachers to keep up our credits,” said Hill, who has children going into the sixth and eighth grades this fall. Grandparents help with them while she is gone.
Wells said that while she does lose some family time to complete her requirements, she is more prepared for the master’s level and more prepared than the average person going into a similar program.