Teachers find plenty of lessons during school break
Though teachers get the summer off from the classroom, many educators seek out learning opportunities to keep themselves busy during the off months, and enrich themselves both professionally and personally. The summer months present a good opportunity for teachers to take educational trips, or do stimulating activities right here at home.
These teachers say they look forward to sharing their experiences with their students, now that school is back in session.
Helping in Haiti
Haiti, a third-world country ravaged by last year's earthquake, lacks creature comforts like running water in its poverty-stricken neighborhoods. And although Haiti, technically, has public schools, many citizens can't afford the tuition to go there. Yet, Carol Hendershot, a first-grade teacher at Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, says she still misses the place after spending about two weeks there this summer visiting and helping three schools.
"It breaks your heart because it is so poor," says Hendershot, 61, of Indiana Township. "I will never complain about Pittsburgh roads again."
She went to Haiti and stayed with her son, Paul, who went to help hospitals manage materials and supplies after the January 2010 earthquake. She received the school's Benedum Teaching Fellowship, which enabled her to make the trip to Haiti and visit the schools that Shady Side Academy has been supporting through fundraising programs. The academy's money is used to help Haitian students pay tuition.
Hendershot spent some time in the primitive classrooms with little light and gave the kids toys and puzzles. She installed a shower curtain to use as a waterproof window cover and read Eric Carle books, like "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," to the kids.
"It was very rewarding," Hendershot says. "It was very eye-opening for me. ... I felt very privileged."
Tim Lloyd went from teaching biology in a high-school classroom to finding an underwater classroom in the Ohio River.
"Some people go fishing. I like to watch fish from the underwater perspective," says Lloyd, 49, of North Huntingdon. He is the head of the science department at Norwin.
Lloyd, a diver for 26 years, spent the summer searching the bottom of the river near a Beaver County spot for different species of mussels -- some that have been around for centuries. He and other divers would swim from one side to the other during their expedition, and pick mussels to be brought to the surface and examined. Lloyd and the others dove for about three hours each day during three segments that totaled six to seven weeks, and swam in dark water that was sometimes 20 to 30 feet deep.
The divers made an account of the different species of mussels they found and submitted a report to state and federal agencies that are considering whether to issue permits allowing dredging in the area.
Lloyd, who has been a diving instructor for many years, says that scuba diving spurred his interest in his main teaching career. He learned a lot during the mussel dives -- such as the life cycles of mollusks -- and he shares some of his stories with his students. Lloyd also spotted many things at the bottom of the river besides mussels, including old toys and tires and a fish more than 2 feet long.
"It's been really interesting for me," he says. "It's hard work, but it does give me something to talk about when I go back to school, and it makes me appreciate my teaching job."
Exploring famed science lab
Cheryl Harper, a physics teacher at Greensburg Salem High School, went to the place where some of the scientific research she talks about takes place: the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. This is the lab where scientists have discovered 16 elements, researched dark energy, done climate simulations and more.
Harper, chair of the board for the Contemporary Physics Education Project, went to explore the lab for a few days this summer with some other members of the group.
"It is very impressive," says Harper, 45. "It's something that I can bring back for my students as far as real-world applications of what is being done in science. ... You just see applications and huge examples of what you do every day.
"It's been a great networking tool to be involved in the group I'm with and to go there and see these things," she says.
This summer, Harper also went to Georgetown outside D.C, to accept the Claes Nobel Educator Distinction Award, which recognizes about 20 teachers who are role models and encourage students to strive for excellence.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers defense takes aim at Ravens QB Flacco
- NHL notebook: Leafs’ Lupul out with broken hand
- Combat veterans to speak at Robert Morris fundraiser
- Seneca Valley girls defend WPIAL Class AAA soccer title
- U.S. Department of Agriculture mismanaged rural program, federal audit shows
- Winter on horizon means time to prep trees
- In 3rd year, newbies WVU, TCU showing they belong in Big 12
- Coastal Division lead within reach for Panthers
- Wall Street caps a wild month with a rally
- Paisley, Underwood back at the awards podium
- Iraqi peshmerga troops join Kobani fight