The Secret Summer Life of Teachers

Mr. Naess worked on an organic cow farm brought to you by WWOOF.  Photo Courtesy of Mr. William Naess

Mr. Naess worked on an organic cow farm brought to you by WWOOF. Photo Courtesy of Mr. William Naess


Contrary to popular belief, teachers have lives outside of school! Just like us, they spend time with friends, take trips, and pursue new hobbies. Even though students may view teachers as boring adults, their summer plans are proof that they aren’t. 

Social studies teacher Mr. William Naess plans to spend his summer WWOOFing. WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) is an organization that connects people who want to live and work on organic farms to host families that are willing to share their lifestyle. 

“The first time I did it [working on a farm], I was a freshman in college,” said Mr. Naess. “I’ve done it about ten times. I’ve continued doing it because I like to get out of the city and experience the beauty of the countryside.”

WWOOF members recieve a list of organic farms that they can participate in for the country they want to travel to. Pictures of the farms and all relevant information are provided. After selecting a farm of interest, you’ll need to informally email or call the host family. At that moment, they’ll either tell you to come by or tell you that they don’t need any volunteer workers on their farm. 

“It is a great way to meet new people and travel in cheap to see part of the world,” said Mr. Naess. “You are living and working for a family that provides you with meals each day. You become completely emerged in their culture and in organic farming.”

Travel is a summer priority for many teachers. Mr. Mark Dickinson is planning a tour of America’s national parks, from Acadia in Maine to Glacier National Park in Montana.

Ms. Pazmino Martinez said, “I’m surprising my husband with a trip to Switzerland.”

Ms. Martinez’s husband hates traveling, but she couldn’t endure staying at home any longer. After much thinking, she decided to plan a surprise trip for her whole family.

This will be the first time that Ms. Martinez is traveling abroad with her husband since their first child was born. They both enjoyed traveling together, but after having a kid, her husband became more resistant to the idea.

“He’s a little over-dramatic,” Ms. Pazmino Martinez said.

Many teachers, like Mr. Marco Machado, take the opportunity to learn over the summer by teaching in new areas. Mr. Machado will be working alongside researchers while participating in a fellowship with the NASA Endeavor STEM Teacher Project.

“We get a chance to not only learn and get a bit more experience with research but also to see how our subject areas overlap in other fields,” he said.

These summer experiences allow teachers to incorporate new ideas into their lessons. Mr. Machado plans on working with biophysicists, which will allow him to establish a connection between biology and physics.

“It’s a good way to review biology while also incorporating my own physics knowledge,” he said. 

Besides teaching in various programs, Mr. Machado also intends to visit his family in Portugal and go sightseeing in the Italian cities of Venice, Florence, and Rome.

“I’ve wanted to see Venice ever since I was a kid,” he said. “The idea of having water canals as streets fascinated me, so I thought: I want to go check that out.”

Italy is also the home of Mr. Machado’s favorite sculptor: Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini is known for famous sculptures of Apollo and Daphne, Medusa, and David. These works of art struck a chord within Mr. Machado.

“[Bernini] somehow has a way of making rock turn to life,” he said. “You can actually see the sweat on it with how the gloss shines on the stone. It’s amazing.”

But whether they’re farming, exploring abroad, or conducting research, teachers are never too far away from what they do for the other ten months of the year. 

“Teachers never stop thinking about teaching,” Mr. Machado said, “even in the summer.”

FeaturesCasey Levinson