As always, summer flies by, and itâ€™s almost time to get ready for the new school year. Frederick County schools start classes on Aug. 27. Students will have a lot to tell their classmates â€” about vacations, camps and other fun activities during their time off.
Students arenâ€™t the only ones enjoying a much-needed break from school this summer. FCPS teachers, who return to school on Aug. 21, have also kept busy during their time off. Some work in other jobs, teach summer classes, some attend school themselves, and hopefully everyone spends time with friends and family.
In June, Urbana Middle School band/theatre arts instructor Jonathan Kurtz went to Ecuador, near the edge of the Amazon rainforest, with his wife, Rachel, and fellow members of Mountain View Community Church. They participated in an annual camp for Ecuadorian children in crisis.
â€śMany of the children are from broken homes or have been abandoned by their parents,â€ť Kurtz said. â€śTheir lives are difficult to begin with and this camp and the school help to offer some hope in a crazy world.â€ť
Kurtz and the other adults organized and ran the camps, and some students and graduates from Urbana high schools were there to help as camp counselors and mentors. He said they gave attention and affection to many children who desperately needed it.
â€śI was very proud of the way our group formed relationships with these students, and many are still friends with some of them on Facebook, with the help of Google Translate,â€ť he said.
They visited an orphanage, and also managed to do a little sightseeing, including a visit to Quito, near the equator. â€śWe had a great time,â€ť Kurtz said, â€śand we look forward to going back some day.â€ť
Urbana Elementary teachers Karen Wills and Faith Humerick took a class together at Westminster Conference Center through the Maryland State Department of Education. Entitled, â€śMaryland Agriculture in the Classroom,â€ť the five-day course included workkshops designed to help the third-grade teachers improve the social studies units.
â€śWe learned so much about agriculture,â€ť Humerick said, â€śand how it closely it ties in to almost everything we teach, including geography and economics.
They went on several field trips, such a dairy farm, a fruit orchard, an egg-packing plant, grocery store and the UTZ potato chip factory. Wills said she was amazed at how hard the farmers work every single day of the year, and how the weather can make or break their season.
â€śIt was really eye-opening,â€ť she said, â€śhow difficult farming is, and how important it is in our lives.â€ť
By cutting an apple several times, one farmer illustrated how little land â€” approximately 1 acre per 37 â€” is suitable for farming in the United States.
In their visit to the potato chip and egg-packing plant, the teacher/students watched the long processes involved in bringing products from farms to stores.
â€śIt was amazing how the machines could spot the ripe potatoes from the green ones,â€ť Wills said. â€śThen they go through several stages; theyâ€™re cut, cooked, divided into sections and flavored and packaged.â€ť
Most of the workshops were hands-on, and information was taught in a way to help teachers to better use it in the classroom. â€śWe walked away with so many materials for the classroom,â€ť Humerick said, â€śincluding lots of childrenâ€™s books to share with the students.â€ť
Both Wills and Humerick agreed that this was the best workshop they had ever attended in their many years of teaching. â€śWe had a blast,â€ť Humerick exclaimed, â€śand we canâ€™t wait to incorporate what weâ€™ve learned into our curriculum!â€ť
In June, Sarah Calderone, a fifth grade teacher at Centerville Elementary, went to Indonesia, Java and Bali for 10 days with a childhood friend. â€śI travel during the summer because I love learning about other people and cultures,â€ť Calderone said. They ate traditional foods, saw classic dance and music presentations, and toured the temples and cities. Calderone kept a journal about her adventures and the different cultures to share with family and friends.
Two summers ago, Calderone backpacked through Europe with a college roommate. They traveled to 14 cities in five countries in 17 days, including Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Switzerland.
â€śWith the dynamic population we have, I feel like it is crucial to understand where our students and our families are coming from,â€ť Calderone said. â€śI work very hard to save enough money to travel, because for me, itâ€™s not a vacation. The world is my classroom, and I can never fully quench my thirst of the knowledge that is it provides.â€ť
Next year, Calderone is taking a leave of absence to finish her masterâ€™s degree in intercultural communication and linguistics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore College (UMBC).
â€śIt was a difficult decision to take a year away from what I love most, teaching,â€ť she said, â€śbut what I will gain in the end is too valuable to pass up.â€ť