Education to Vacation: Summer Break for Teachers

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October 1, 2019

Summer is the season of relaxation, filled with fun activities and a break from school. Students could be found attending classes at colleges, going to summer camps, or on vacation with families and friends. However, students aren’t the only ones taking advantage of a little rest and relaxation. Spyglass asked four teachers how they spent their summers.

Regina Wei, the Co-Dean of Student Voices and Human Development teacher, used her summer to attend a graduate program to be a couples and family therapist. “I decided to study couples and family therapy because I've always been interested in helping people get along better with each other whether they're romantic partners or family members,” said Wei, who has been attending the program since August.

In addition to her training, Wei spent her summer revising the Human Development curriculum for juniors at Westridge, along with assuming her role as Co-Dean of Student Voices with Zoe Munoz, planning Student Voices events, and meeting with affinity heads for the 2019-2020 school year. “The HD11 curriculum needed to be revisited because we felt it had a lot of potential, but it wasn't accomplishing what we wanted for Juniors. In a nutshell, we see how intense Junior year is for students, and we want to provide them with an array of mindfulness skills, self-reflective techniques, and stress-relieving tools that can help them with everything else that's going on outside of Human Development.”

Ryan Skophammer, Upper School Science teacher, traveled to the East Coast for six weeks. Starting a graduate program in private school leadership at Columbia University’s Teachers’ College, he worked with other educators to come up with a curriculum. “I had never trained as an educator prior to coming to Westridge, and this seemed like a great opportunity to learn new things and understand more about the world of independent schools. I am also committed to working to fulfill the mission of Westridge, and I believed I could better serve the organization through completing this program.” 

Edye Udell, also an Upper School Science teacher, took a more relaxed summer and went to French Polynesia, island-hopping to places including Raiatea, Moorea, Maupiti, and Bora Bora. During her three and a half weeks there, Udell visited a Tahitian pearl farm, scuba dove, toured a vanilla farm, ate fresh fish, and stayed on a catamaran for a week. “My favorite part was snorkeling with the manta rays. They’re five feet above you, and they hover a little bit and go to the same place every day, where you can snorkel down and watch them for an hour. It was crazy. Additionally, in one of the places [my husband and I] stayed at, there were these black-tipped sharks we would snorkel with and feed in the evenings.” She enjoyed the trip so much that she plans to go back to French Polynesia, specifically Rangiroa, next year. 

Kashmir Blake, Middle and Upper School Dance teacher, spent time on a different island over the summer. “I went on a cruise with my daughter [Kya] to Florida and spent time in Fort Lauderdale. We saw alligators and Kya even ate some as well. We also went to the Bahamas, and it rained so hard in Florida, we couldn’t even see where we were driving. It was a fabulous vacation.”