Teachers, admin utilize summer for personal and professional development


Teacher Bern Staples participates in the “Teach Like a Pirate” contest over the summer. As all teachers work through the book, they can take a creative photo reading it to win a prize.

Colton Leggett, Staff Reporter

At the end of each school year, students, teachers and administrators alike look forward to the two-month break from waking up early every morning and taking the drive to school. While students often spend this break traveling, relaxing, and working on their much-dreaded summer reading, have you ever wondered what teachers or administration might be doing over summer?

A couple teachers and administrators at Northlake shed some light on this topic. Many teachers stay very busy over summer and do not spend their two months “free time” just relaxing at home, but also put in a lot of time attending Professional Development seminars and preparing for the upcoming year. Others, however, enjoy using their summer as a time to recoup so they are energized for the next year.

Upper School Principal Jenni Vega gave some insight on what her summers are like in regards to preparing for the next school year.

“There’s a whole lot of planning, doing everything from schedules to hiring teachers to training teachers, ordering textbooks, and getting all the subscriptions set up for the iPads all summer,” said Vega.

Although Vega spends many hours preparing for the upcoming school year over the summer, she also shared her need to take a mental break after her first school year as Upper School Principal, which called for many long hours.

“This summer I actually took a vacation, a full week, for the first time where I literally did not check emails or anything, and it was wonderful,” explained Vega.

In contrast, Oleta Overby, who has taught Science for many years, but is teaching her first year at Northlake, spends most of her summer working on her farm.

“All year long I’ve got my horses, so I spend more time with them in the summertime. There’s always something to do on the farm,” said Overby.

People may think that many teachers need a mental break after the school year, however Overby may be an exception.

“To be honest, my first couple years of teaching I wasn’t cleansed (of the mental stress) until July. After that, I was okay walking out the door on the last day, and I still am,” explained Overby.

Aside from individual development teachers may do, some members of the Northlake faculty attend conferences together to grow as teachers.

Vega touched on her summer trips to teacher conferences.

“I went to the AP teacher conference and went to all the administrative sessions, and it was wonderful,” said Vega.

Along with Vega, all AP teachers at Northlake attended the annual AP conference in Houston, where they learned new strategies to take back to their classroom.

Overby did not attend any this summer, however, she did mention, “I have been to many and I have gotten lots of great ideas by networking with other teachers.”

As a school, all teachers at Northlake also read a book called Teach like a Pirate by Dave Burgess over the summer and participated in a group discussion of the theories learned in the book.

Vega shared some information behind the idea of reading the book.

“It was kind of my idea for us to all read that book together. I had read it before, and it is a great book about encouraging and engaging with students so that they are more actively learning what they’re supposed to be learning and not just being lectured to,” elaborated Vega.

“I enjoyed it. It had some great ideas. It gives ideas on how to break up the monotony of a lecture-type day, so I think that’s super important,” said Overby.

After the summer full of both professional development and personal time, Vega shares her hopes what she would like to do more this school year.

“I have a huge focus on just being able to spend more time with you guys [students]. Last year I felt like I was setting up a lot of stuff since it was my first year. I had to do a lot of work in the background so this year I just am trying to be real present, not just at events, but in the hallways and in the classrooms,” said Vega.

Teachers spend a lot of time preparing for the next school year as well enjoying some much needed relaxation time during summer.