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Summer not really vacation for teacher Brian Simmonds

It is a time to spend more time with their family

Staff writer

For many teachers in Marion County, summer is not relaxing time off.

Marion Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Tina Hague starts teaching summer school July 19. She is going to be teaching fifth or six grade, although she is unsure which one.

Hillsboro Middle School special education teacher Anne Janzen started tutoring students two weeks after school let out. Janzen said that her goal is to prevent students from losing skills and knowledge during their vacation time.

“We just want to make sure the student doesn’t regress,” she said. “(With one) particular student there was regression over vacation time (during the school year).”

Janzen tutors some students in reading and others in math. She will teach summer school part time starting July 28.

“It’s about getting students accustomed to the school routine,” Janzen explained.

Peabody-Burns High School teacher Brian Simmonds has two school-related duties during the summer.

Simmonds has been teaching the PBHS driver’s education course since 1995. He has taught the classroom and driving portions of the course, but he was strictly on the driving side this year.

He helped guide 26 beginning drivers through the course in two and a half weeks this June.

Simmonds is also in his third season on the bench as the Warriors head basketball coach. He works with the team on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through the first few weeks of summer until KSHSAA guidelines force Simmonds to relinquish team contact in July. Coaches can only have so much contact with a team in the offseason of a high school sport.

He has taken the team through drills, worked on their shooting, and introduced some of the offense, so that the team is used to the plays before the beginning of the season. Simmonds is careful not to work his players too hard; many of the members of the team also practice for football in the morning on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

“We share quite a few athletes,” Simmonds said of the different sports teams at Peabody.

Simmonds also has to work around work schedules and swim and baseball teams.

“You have to allow kids to be kids,” he said.

Simmonds is looking to expand his academic profile as well. While he already teaches math and physics, he is studying this summer to become certified as a physics teacher.

The challenge in front of Simmonds is a test of 100 physics problems to be completed in two hours without the assistance of a calculator.

“Without a calculator? Wow!” Simmonds said when he first heard about the test. “You’re really going to have to know your stuff.”

With the summer experience taking the certification test, Simmonds is looking to improve his physics curriculum.

“I plan on using the study time to make up lessons as I go,” he said.

Summer is also a time for teachers to focus on their families and take care of business around the house.

“Things I tend to put off during the summer,” Janzen said.

Hague said that she and her husband like to take their two children — Emily and Jared — camping. She also spends a lot of time at Jared’s and Emily’s baseball and softball games.

The Hagues are also looking into a family vacation.

They have already remodeled their living room.

Simmonds said that his project this summer is to paint the trim around his house. He is also tasked with taking care of the yard work.

He is looking into a vacation but is still waiting to see if he and his family will have the finances and time to take a trip.

Janzen commits to spending more time with her family.

She is the primary transport for her mother — now 83 years old — to family gatherings and reunions.

Her mother lives in Osborne, about two and a half hours from Hillsboro, and one of the reunions this summer is in a suburb of Denver. The drive usually takes between seven and eight hours.

The driving is worth it because she knows the importance of her mother’s status as a family matriarch.

“I grew up without grandparents,” Janzen said. “My children are lucky to have grandparents.”

Janzen’s mother has also had health concerns the last couple of years, including a blood clot in her leg.

However, the most important reason for taking her mother to the family gathering in Colorado is because one of her great-grandchildren, who is only 2 years old, is battling leukemia.

Janzen said that she helped take care of the two older children in the family when the disease was diagnosed.

But, it’s not a duty or a burden. Janzen likes spending time with her mother. They both enjoy creating crafts and Janzen laments that they do not live closer.

“If you were closer, I’d put you to work,” Janzen joked to her mother.

The family gatherings also allow Janzen to hear conversations, which she cherishes.

“My mother has an aunt who is 94 years old,” Janzen said. “It’s fun to hear them talk about old times.”

For Hague, Simmonds, and Janzen summer presents an opportunity to spend more time with their families.

“Family is just a really important thing to me,” Janzen said.

Before they know it, the summer will be gone. All of the teachers said that they would be steadfastly working on lesson plans, putting together their classrooms, and meeting with other teachers in the first two weeks of August.

Last modified June 30, 2010

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