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What do faculty members do over the summer?

What+do+faculty+members+do+over+the+summer%3F

The classroom clock painstakingly changes minutes. It is 2:38 pm…2:39…2:41! Summer vacation has begun. Students stream into the hallways, eager to break free from the building and start their two month-long vacation. Most are excited not to step foot in the school again until September. 

However, much of the faculty and staff working tirelessly behind the scenes will return to school the next day to continue to work throughout the summer months. Ms. Hardesty, Hastings High School’s Assistant Principal, describes the summer as “a really good time to do a lot of busy work that we can’t get done during the school year, like cleaning out our files and emails…and we organize everything and then we prepare all the things we need for the following year.”

For much of the administrative staff in the District, the summer months are critical to ensure a smoothly run school year. For example, Ms. Hardesty updates the Code of Conduct and creates a grading and letter calendar for the upcoming year. 

Dr. McKersie, the District Superintendent, explained, “Part of what we do over the summer is prioritize and set goals for the coming year, asking, ‘What are our most important initiatives?’”

For the Central Administrative Team, preparations include ensuring that the curriculum fits State standards, setting goals with the Board of Education, onboarding new faculty, and furthering the Portrait of a Hastings Learner, which is a development plan for the Hastings district that “will serve as the cornerstone for all aspects of the district’s future K-12 work – instruction, co-curricular; professional development; fiscal planning; classroom design; recruitment and hiring; and evaluation and tenure processes,” according to the district website.

One of the most noteworthy additions to the HHS team this coming fall is the new HHS principal, Mr. Andrew Clayman, following the retirement of HHS’s current principal, Mr. Adipietro. While onboarding, Mr. Clayman will work closely with Dr. McKersie, Ms. Hardesty, and Mr. Adipietro to ensure a smooth transition. Ms. O’Leary, the secretary for the HHS principal, will also work closely with Mr. Clayman throughout the summer to acclimate him and make a plan for the upcoming year. She explained that the 2024-2025 school year will have she is excited for the upcoming year with new staff members: “The new principal will be an adjustment for all of us, but I think it’ll be a nice change and we’ll see what he brings to us, too, as far as a different approach for things.”

Also working behind the scenes to ensure a strong start to the school year is the Buildings and Grounds team: “Let me be clear,” Dr. McKersie posited during an interview, “the Buildings and Grounds team…work[s] intensively over the summer…They really want that once you come back to school, this building in tip top shape and incredibly clean.”

The Buildings and Grounds department advances multiple projects throughout the summer not only to get the building in shape but also to improve it. They clean the Farragut complex thoroughly, redo the floors, repair light fixtures, change filters, and paint. Additionally, this summer, Mr. Martorana, the Hastings Director of Facilities, and his team will renovate the suite that houses the psychology and OP specialists at Hillside. 

“The buildings and grounds team is a dedicated, hardworking team in the summer who works right through all the heat of the summer,” said Mr. Martorana.

The team’s projects, strenuous in their own right, are intensified by the hot temperatures of the summer and the need to continue to clean up after camp programs at Hillside.

“It’s something you never notice, right?” Mr. Martorana asked. “You come in and everything’s put together and clean…we walk through in the summer and we say, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to be ready.’ But it’s always ready for September.”

Teachers, too, are hard at work during the summer months. “That idea of the teacher sitting by the poolside and drinking lemonade has not exactly been my experience of it…something that is important to understand is that many teachers use the summer to work or keep their careers moving,” explained Mr. Abrams, an HHS English teacher. 

Teachers often attend workshops that explore new teaching methods and topics, including bringing diversity into the classroom. For example, Ms. Gagliardi, an HHS science teacher, said that she sometimes takes courses in either biology or teaching. 

Other types of work that teachers complete over the summer include writing recommendations. Mr. Abrams and Ms. Gagliardi, along with many other teachers who typically teach juniors, often also have numerous letters of recommendation to write for rising seniors’ college applications. Mr. Abrams said that he likes “to try and get a good start on them so that in the fall [he] can revise them and, if students have deadlines that come up quicker than expected, it’s easier for [him] to be flexible.”

Additionally, many teachers revise their curriculum for the upcoming school year. “I try to fix stuff that I taught, just fix or tweak activities that I didn’t really like,” Ms. Gagliardi said.

Like revision of curriculum, faculty and staff across departments in the district work diligently to ensure a positive student experience in the upcoming school year. Mr. Abrams stated, “For me, that’s actually the most important part of the summer, not actually the time off, but the idea that you can rethink and reimagine what happens next.”

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About the Contributor
Frieda Belasco, Managing Editor
Currently a junior at Hastings High School, Frieda has been writing for "The Buzzer" for three years and a Managing Editor for two. Journalism has always been a part of Frieda's life, and she's been looking forward to writing for "The Buzzer" since 6th grade. When she's not stressing about schoolwork, you can find her reading historical fiction novels, exploring cafes with her friends, or listening to music.

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