Like many who work in education, I often hear people say, “You’re so lucky to be a teacher and have the summers off!” And they are right—teachers have the wonderful opportunity to have some time out of the classroom each year. Our administrators and staff hold down the fort during the summer months, though most, if not all, are able to take a few weeks of vacation.
So what do Marin Academy teachers do? After graduation, all teachers participate in curriculum development days on campus. This year they will reflect on end of year projects, work in their department groups, and learn more about our new website that will launch in the next two months. We will also come together in August before school resumes to work together and prepare for the year.
From early June through mid-August, summer plans differ. Some teachers are parents who take advantage of extra time with their children. Others visit with friends and relatives around the Bay Area, California, or the rest of the US. Some teachers travel extensively—including two of our teachers who will take students to the Daraja Academy in Kenya. Others take summer classes. I hope that all have time to recharge and prepare for next year’s courses, students, and projects.
Each year MA supports the summer travel and study of one or more faculty members through a grant from the E. E. Ford Foundation. The projects teachers propose are related to the courses they teach at MA. Last year Stephen Baldwin, Marie Collie, and Tom Woodward each received a grant (you can read about their experiences in this blog post). This year I’m proud that one of our dance teachers, Randee Paufve, will embark on a month-long trip to research and study contemporary dance-theater practices and performance in Europe. Her project will include a week at Festival Avignon; a week in Dusseldorf at Open Space; and 12 days in Berlin spent taking classes and workshops, observing rehearsals, seeing performances, and interviewing Berlin-based choreographers and directors.
She writes, “While Modern Dance is originally an American form, the center for innovative dance practices began shifting from the US to Europe during the late 20th century. Largely through the work of the late great German choreographer Pina Bausch, the lines between dance and theater have blurred, and Europe, Germany and France in particular, has become the epicenter for rigorous experimentation in contemporary dance and performance, generating new practices and discourses with a global impact.
“This project will certainly enhance and fortify my work as a teacher at Marin Academy. The opportunity to spend time as a student myself this summer will allow me to share learning experiences and vital new ideas about dance with our students. Through this course of study I seek ways to help students construct their own understanding about creative and collaborative processes not only between dance and other art forms, but also between dance and other areas of their education—scientific inquiry, mathematical theory, history and literature, as well as current digital technology and social media.
“This project will also help to lay the groundwork for the first ever collaboration between the MA Theater Company and the MA Dance Company. During spring 2013, Annie Elias and I will work together with the students from both companies to create and build a dance-theater performance from the ground up. The culminating performance, a Marin Academy main stage production, will take place in May 2013.”
I also wanted to share that Glenn Stanfield, who recently celebrated his 35th (!) year at Marin Academy, has received the 2012 McEvoy Sabbatical Grant for the spring semester next year.
He writes, “It’s now been 35 Februaries that I’ve been at MA. I have led 35 minicourses. I’ve seen 35 graduating classes cross the stage. I feel ready to take a one-year leave on those experiences and pay more attention to those most dear to me. I must admit that I look forward to the rest and to the new services that I’ll assume while away from the academic arena. I will not be idle. I’ll be busy as a full-time husband; as a father of two children, who are busy raising their own families; as a grandfather (i.e., play buddy and storyteller); and as a brother looking for the opportunity to be and work with the person who has been my most enduring friend, Wayne, my older brother. Ultimately, the sabbatical will offer me a refreshing release from teaching duties. I expect that this will help me return fresh, motivated and ready to be back in the class when I return in the fall of 2013.”
Glenn won’t be able to stay away from learning, however: “A related interest is to attend a construction course in Tijuana, Mexico. A friend, Dave Kelly, whom I met through Corazon (the nonprofit I have worked with during the last eight minicourses), teaches the course and has invited me to attend and assist with translation. There are multiple benefits with this project. I will be staying, studying, and working in Mexico. The work is related to teaching in that I’ll use my Spanish. It will make me a more valuable resource to Corazon and to our friends with whom we work each year in Valle de las Palmas. It will give me the chance to be a student again, too. It always valuable to return to that side of the classroom and have to remember what it’s like to be the learner and not the teacher.”
We will miss Glenn in the spring, and are excited to hear about his and Randee’s adventures!
While I look forward to taking some time with family this summer, I am also excited to keep writing this blog. There are several “5 Question” interviews that will be posted in the coming months. I will also have more time to reflect on and explore other MA and educational topics. As always, I welcome your questions and comments and await Head and Tales’ one-year anniversary in August!