I’ve been a teacher for forty-two years. I’ve worked in five different schools. I’ve worked with children from four to eighteen years old. An no matter what circumstances, I have always yearned for summer. I love teaching. It is my passion. I am lucky to have taught for forty-two years. I have purpose and satisfaction. But summer is part of the plan. Summer is the natural consequence of teaching and learning. Summer is the built-in reflection spot – a time to regroup and regain perspective, imagination, and energy.
After this spring of remote learning, I’ve found that I need summer even more. I need that time to unwind to rewind. Usually my husband and I plan many summer trips so I can achieve this. Last year, we went to Bar Harbor, Maine for fourteen days. It wasn’t until day ten that I felt I had successfully divested myself of “school mindset.” School mindset is crammed with planning, doing, re-planning. It runs counter to writer’s mind or imagination mindset. I often have allowed school mindset take over and run things. But I’ve learned that when I find my mind constantly running, checking emails, waiting for the next meeting, making lists of the next seven projects – it is way past time for an unwind-rewind. Summer must be on the near horizon, and I find myself running to meet it.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been driving out to meet it. I wander the country roads of western New Jersey (Yes, there are country roads in New Jersey). I drive out past the meadows, horse farms, sheep pastures, and farm stands with rolling hills on either side. My shoulders drop; I start to breathe; I smile to myself. I am content: summer has finally come.
Since long summer trips will be impossible to do this summer, I find myself thinking of the beach. The Jersey girl in me thinks about the endless summer days I spent as a child and teenager down the shore. I long to return. This spring, I started to organize my countless photographs. I came upon some photos I had taken a few years ago at Asbury Park. I love the gritty beauty of that place. Looking back has taught me to take my time, explore places closer to home, write, draw, and wonder. Open my mind and welcome summer.