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Summer break is not just for students

on May 19, 2009

The end of the school year can’t come soon enough for Jenny Brackett.  In June she’ll wave so long to the beloved kindergartners in her class at Chabot Elementary and will spend the summer with her three favorite big kids – a 2nd grader, 4th grader and a 12th grader.

“It’s nice to have the summer off,” said Bracket as she watched students play four-square. “ It’s rejuvenating and I want to spend one last summer with my daughter who will be a senior.”

Although there is no official data tracking what Oakland’s public school teachers do over the summer, according to Mary Butler, executive officer of instructional services for the Oakland Unified School District, interviews at three schools in North Oakland indicated few big changes in the number of teachers who will seek summer work. In keeping with others years, some will teach summer school or work elsewhere, others will travel and take classes, and  some will simply stay home and enjoy their families.

Third grade teacher Miranda Carrow, said that when the school year is done she will be hard at work during her 7th summer as a counselor at Husky House for Kids in Lafayette.

“During the teacher I teach, but in the summer I get to play. I get paid to have fun,” she said.

A few teachers, who earn an average first year salary of $39,456 to $46,786  in the Oakland Unified School District,  did express concern  about the economy.

“I’m a little bit more concerned than I was last year,” said an English teacher at Claremont Middle School who declined to give her name.

Claremont Middle School is one of the schools tapped to host a summer school program

“A lot of teachers are getting jobs over the summer,” said Jennifer Mick a 6th grade language arts and history teacher at Claremont.  “Special education and programs for the severely handicapped all offer [summer] programs.  So a lot of those teachers will be getting jobs.

A colleague of Mick’s who is a science teacher will spend the summer working at a lab at UC Berkeley.  As for Mick, she will take summer classes at UC Berkeley in social psychology and tennis and do some traveling.

Some teachers use the summer to go to school.   Claremont Math teacher Pam Chalk will learn about a brand new math program that will be implemented in the fall.  She also plans to attend Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID).

“About one third of us are going to the AVID.  Two other people in the math department are going to Cuba,” said Chalk.

For many, the opportunity to take a break is still worth more than the money.  “I plan to focus on my life,” said 6th grade language arts and history teacher Rhonda James.

This theme was repeated down the street at Oakland Technical High school.

“I’m going to spend my summer rejuvenating,” said band director David Byrd while he hauled in a baritone saxophone for a student.

Byrd will sneak in a little work before play however.  He will teach a two-day jazz workshop and a short clinic on auditioning techniques for interested students.  After that he will be free to gig with his band Straosphere ’68.

Assistant special education teacher Mildred Bellow does not take a teacher’s need for down time lightly.  She will spend the summer relaxing with her grandchildren and celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary.

“I love every moment of my job, but I never work the summer,” she said. “ My kids require a lot of attention.  I have to be fresh so I can give them every thing I’ve got.”


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