8 Things Teachers Enjoy During Summer Break

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Yesterday, students at Stevenson University celebrated their graduation at our ceremonies in Maryland. As a professor in the department of Business Communication, I was thrilled to see our graduates walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. They worked hard the last four years, and it paid off.

As for my colleagues and me, that means we are done teaching until August (unless some are teaching a summer course). While we certainly have preparations to make for the Fall 2017 semester (and I will be teaching a newly created course as well that requires a lot of work), we are free to do some things we want to do during our time off. I’ve compiled a list of the 8 Things Teachers Enjoy During Summer Break having spoken to countless teachers who enjoy the down time between the school year. Here are 8 things teachers may do during their summer break:

  1. Clean: The summer months provide ample time to get to those projects that have been sorely neglected. For example, next week I will be tackling the dissection of my garage. We’ve lived in our home for 4 years, and it’s time to do some major cleaning—the kids have grown, and we no longer have a need for toys, old sports equipment, and certain memorabilia. Cleaning out offices and closets are also high on the list of summer projects.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 10.56.33 AM
  2. Read: During the semesters or school year, we grade a lot of written work, and we bring a lot of that home with us, which leaves little time to read for fun…just ask my book club; I barely have time to finish some of the books we choose throughout the year. Summer reading means we can immerse ourselves into our own pleasures, which includes books we want to read and books we need to read. There is nothing better than catching up on a few good books.
  3. Travel: My colleague, Heather, is off to Italy; others are heading to the Outer Banks; our family is gearing up for another trip to Hilton Head with a stop in Charleston. My husband and I are planning our 20th anniversary trip. Summer is the best time for teachers with children to travel—no one misses school days as everyone is off. Traveling allows us to decompress, de-stress, and relax in a location we have selected. Whether it’s a long vacation or short day trips, travel allows us to become connected to people and places in the most fascinating ways.
  4. Write: Summer allows us time to write, especially for those of us who have to present at conferences, research our discipline, and publish works as part of our academic careers. It also allows us time to write creatively—especially for those of us who have a creative spirit and write on the side.
  5. Exercise: It’s true. I find I have much more limited time to work out during the school year as I have that responsibility along with the responsibility of taking care of my family. In the summer, there is no excuse for not squeezing in a workout, a long walk, a bike ride, or a swim at the pool. Making time to spend on our health and well-being is important, and summer is great time to start making strides towards better health.DSC_0139
  6. Garden: I was talking to my colleague Roger yesterday before graduation ceremonies, and he was telling me about how he couldn’t wait to begin tackling his garden. He, like many others, enjoy the serenity gardening brings us. It’s also a great way to get a little exercise and tend to nature and see the beautiful results of your labor as flowers bloom and veggie and fruit plants provide you with fresh offerings right from your yard.
  7. Reconnect: Being a teacher doesn’t leave a lot of time for social interactions simply because our work and family life commitments can be time consuming, both inside and outside of the classroom. Summer offers teachers time to reconnect with neighbors and friends at neighborhood functions, barbecues, pools, clubs, or at adult socials.
  8. Indulge: Summer provides teachers the time to indulge in our favorite hobbies—and that can involve anything! It could mean attending baseball games, making pottery, taking photographs, running, or painting. It’s important to have hobbies, and the summer months offer teachers time to reconnect with some of their interests and talents.

I know I haven’t hit them all, but I think I’ve covered some of the main things teachers get excited to do during the summer months. If I’ve missed something, please let me know, and truly, HAVE A GREAT SUMMER, FELLOW TEACHERS!

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.


Sharing Something Sweet: A Reward That Comes From Teaching

Yesterday, I popped onto my Instagram feed to take a peek at what was going on when I came across this:

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The Instagram post was written by a former student who was also one of the co-presidents of our public relations club that I advise and someone I mentored during her college years. During that time and afterwards, we became friends.

I am always so touched when someone takes the time to write something heartwarming like this. It’s the best reward one can get from being a teacher.

I am full of gratitude, and it brought a tear to my eye. It means the world to me.

Thank you so much, Rachel, for your very kind words, and for allowing me to share this on my blog. And I’m so proud of the journey you’ve taken into the world of higher education where you are now making a big difference in the lives of students, too.

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.


In Honor of Teacher Appreciation Week & A Thank You to My Students

Group shot Book LaunchIn the laundry room on Pointer Ridge Drive in Bowie, Maryland, where I grew up, my parents hung my large blackboard I got for Christmas. The laundry room was a good size, and the perfect place for me to set up my schoolroom. My aunt had given me a grade book she used when she was a teacher, and at the age of eight, I began practicing to be a teacher by writing on the board, planning lessons, and marking the imagined students’ grades in my grade book.

Mrs. Schuman and Ms. Cosby were my fourth grade teachers, and I watched how they conducted the class. I wanted to be just like them…teaching, interacting with the students, and grading papers.

When we moved to the Annapolis area and I attended Severna Park High School, it was Ms. Susek I adored. She taught the Creative Writing class I took, and I loved every second of it. Ms. Susek encouraged our creativity, expanded our knowledge by suggesting good pieces to read, and helped us tweak our short stories and poems. Mrs. Sheppard taught us Maryland history, and I recently ran into her in Severna Park. Guess what? She remembered me. That’s one heck of a teacher.

TeacherIn college at Towson University, there were several professors who loved what they did, from Brenda Logue who taught communication courses to Barry Moore who taught film, and their excitement for the topics they instructed was contagious. But it was Dr. George Friedman, my graduate school professor, who made me love writing so much that I knew—at some point—I was going to publish something. Additionally, the way George conducted his class with respect and a sense of imagination and pure fun has always led me to ask the question in my own classroom: What would George do? Asking myself this question always leads me to the right answer.

Finally, there is the case of my mother who taught middle school until she retired. Seeing her influence her students in positive ways, watching how kids react when they run into her in Annapolis as adults now and give her big hugs and thank her for being their teacher—all off this touched me and made me want to pursue the occupation.


Two weeks ago, I was promoted to full professor at Stevenson University. I cannot tell you how touched and honored I am to have achieved that status. I’ve worked hard, but I wouldn’t do any of it if it weren’t for the students. They make coming to work pleasurable. They also made me realize that at the age of eight, I had pretty good instincts to know what was going to bring me joy as a career. And I couldn’t be happier.

To my public relations writing class this semester—you all made me teary when I walked in the room and you applauded my promotion. I will never forget that moment. Thank you so much.

To teachers everywhere—I appreciate what you do every single day. It’s a tough job that requires tons of work inside and outside the classroom, as well as sacrifices of your spare time. But what you do is important—and it touches many people’s lives whether they tell you or not.

Mr. Rogers



Pride of the … Teacher (not Yankees)

Photo credit: LaurenLionhart.com
Photo credit: LaurenLionheart.com

The last few weeks I have been watching my students step it up. From making public relations crisis communication plans in public relations class to making pitches in advertising, they have come a long way over the course of the semester. When you witness their growth as they go into high drive and succeed at real-world application exercises, there’s a sense of pride that comes with it. I think to myself these thoughts: I taught them how to do it, but even greater, they learned from it.

In the magazine writing class, we’ve put our magazine online. It’s only the second semester we’ve taken it to a new level and actually published something. I’m very proud of their story innovation and their leadership in completing their stories and getting them to their editors on time.

Later in April, we’ll be taking students to the Eastern Communication Association Conference in Pittsburgh, where my colleagues and I will be presenting papers. The students will have the opportunity to sit in on panels and presentations and start to generate ideas for next year’s conference when they will hopefully have an paper accepted.

I say it all the time: I have the best job in the world. I adore teaching and helping students become better writers, thinkers, and planners. My own writing is something I do on the side, because ultimately, my goal is to send these very bright students off into the universe to become even more accomplished than they already are.


A Belated Thanks to Mrs. S—

Today I found a letter from 1982. It is from my high school creative writing teacher, Mrs. S—. I was extremely fond of her, though admittedly, a little intimidated as well. She was kind enough to write me a recommendation letter to go along with my college application forms and essays. I have retyped it with my own comments regarding this particular letter in parentheses and italicized them. The letter reads as follows:

Gentleman: (Notice the formality of the salutation! I love it!)

Miss Stephanie Parrillo (maiden name) has distinguished herself as a serious and conscientious student who performs excellently. (Perception is everything.)

Academically, Stephanie earns above average grades. (My department chair at Stevenson will be very surprised to hear this, wink-wink.) My course, Creative Writing, in which she is presently enrolled, is a high level writing course—Phase 3. (I can’t quite remember what exactly that means, but we’ll pretend it was really, really challenging, and demanded serious, thoughtful dedication, along with extremely gifted, off-the-charts writing abilities.) Her performance and participation in class are outstanding.

Stephanie seems to be aware of her academic responsibilities and meets them successfully (my parents may have had another viewpoint on this matter). It is apparent by the quality of her class and homework assignments that she devotes a great deal of time to this type of activity (I had them all fooled; I pretty much talked on the phone and only concentrated on cheerleading.) She is often involved in class discussions and activity. (The activity part was probably passing notes and giggling at a guy who called himself “Spike,” but only to substitute teachers. He was otherwise known as David.)

In short, I recommend, with enthusiasm, Miss Stephanie Parrillo to any situation that combines an academic and practical means to satisfy her personal and career objectives. (Whew! Thank goodness she did! I am pretty certain I put all my eggs in Mrs. S—’s recommendation basket.)


Mrs. S—

What a well-written piece of correspondence; it must have been persuasive, too, because I did get into college, despite the cheerleading and phone usage. Today, people often write in the salutation “To Whom It May Concern,” or “Dear Sir or Madame.” I love the simplicity of “Gentleman,” though it’s way too sexist for today’s world. It does make me feel like I’m reading an Austen novel, which also makes me feel quite old, actually.

Incidentally, this letter was not found in one of my boxes in my storage room. After reading my Nostalgia post, I know that may not be surprising. It was, however, neatly organized and lovingly kept in a folder my dad gave me recently that included my report cards, the few awards I received in high school, and some letters, such as this, to remind me of my younger days. My dad is super organized and I’m thankful for that, because it helped me remember that Mrs. S— had a profound impact on me. She helped me believe that I could be a creative writer, and all these years later, I am still working on fulfilling that dream.

Therefore, this is a belated thank you to Mrs. S—, for inspiring me, believing in me, and recommending me, though at times I probably didn’t deserve it. Additionally, I am quite sure I didn’t properly thank her all those years ago. Also, thank you, Dad, for diligently keeping a file on my life as a student.

It’s funny how a little letter can cause you to reminisce like this…

Well, that’s all for now, Gentlemen.