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High school teacher takes break from teens
new slt series4 Clark
Karen Clark, Great Bend High School German teacher, helps one of her preschool students paint stripes on a bumblebee during the Crayola Kids class while another child waits her turn. Clark has taught for the Great Bend Recreation Commission 22 years and enjoys the break from teenagers that working with preschoolers offers. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Editor’s Note: This is one in an ongoing series of stories about how USD 428 teachers spend their summer break.

It’s kind of one end of the spectrum to the other: During the school year Karen Clark teaches German to Great Bend High School students; in the summer she moves as far down as the preschool level and teaches for the Great Bend Recreation Commission.
But when a teacher is good at what she does and loves it, there’s no reason not to do it year round.
“I like teaching my high school kids,” Clark said, “but I love working for the Rec.
“I enjoy the funny moments and innocence of the preschoolers, but I miss the advanced conversations and independence of the high school students,” she said. “I do get some of the preschoolers I taught at the Rec later in high school. Some remember me, others do not.
“It is a nice break from my high school kids,” Clark continued. “However, by the time the summer is over, I am ready to be back with the older kids. It also reaffirms that I made the right decision in deciding to teach high school as opposed to elementary school.”
Clark has been teaching leisure-program classes since 1995.
“When my kids were little they could go to classes with me. Now that they are older, they work for the Recreation Commission,” she said.
“When I first started teaching the classes, the little kids would often call me Mom, as I am sure all preschool teachers get,” she recalled. However, with 22 years of teaching under her belt, a student recently slipped up and called her Grandma.
“I have a few art and cooking classes for elementary kids, but mainly preschoolers ages 3-5,” Clark said. “The classes usually consist of an art project, play time, stories and songs, working on ABCs and counting.
“I also have a couple of cooking classes for preschoolers,” she said. “The classes are a good opportunity to get preschoolers ready for real preschool. It is a great way to start working on separation anxiety some kids have since the classes usually only last an hour and 30 minutes.”
Clark teaches during June until mid-July so she has a little time off before the new school starts.
“I am not one who could stay home all summer, and obviously, I can use the extra money. I am not into gardening or home-improvement type projects.
“If I didn’t do something, I would have a hard time getting back in the groove when school starts,” she said. “This way I never really get out of that mentality.”