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.”