Teachers Make the Most of Their Summer Vacations

by Jenna Bloom ’21

As students, we spend the end of the school year itching for summer. We make countdowns on our phones, waiting for the time when we can spend all day outside at the beach or pool, getting tan and having fun. But, we aren’t the only ones getting a break from school. Teachers also have three glorious months to relax, spend time with their kids, work at their summer jobs, express themselves through art, or just go on vacation.


Peterson Won’t Get a Big Head from Mascotting

Over the summer, you might see Maria Peterson in disguise, mascotting for tennis teams such as the Washington Kastles, or at tournaments like the Citi Open. Mascotting is a way to relieve stress and just have fun over the summer for Peterson.
“I love to do fun stuff in the summer,” said Peterson. “As a teacher I focus on my job during the school year, but in the summer this is my way of interacting with people and making people smile, making people happy”

After enjoying her experience mascotting, she decided to take it to the next level. Last summer, Peterson tried out to be a Washington Nationals Racing President, which race around the perimeter of the baseball field in the middle of the fourth inning at every game held at Nats Park. While Peterson was not chosen to represent one of the four presidents, she loved the process and was happy just to try out.
In an interview with NBC Sports, she explained how heavy the Thomas Jefferson suit was. “It’s challenging because you’re running with all that weight that’s pushing on you and you feel like somebody’s kind of pulling on you from behind, so it’s hard. There are so many logistics and you’re just trying to see where you’re going,” Peterson said.

In addition, Peterson also works at Merriweather Post Pavilion as an Official Supervisor where she collects tickets, guards the backstage area, and checks bags, among countless other tasks.
She also is training for a RAGNAR race that takes placein September, in which she and other contestants run from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington DC, which is around 200 miles. It starts Friday morning at 4:30 am, and ends Saturday night.

“Not to sound like a debbie downer, but every day we’re just getting a day older,” she explained for why she keeps herself so busy. “I don’t want to get to be an old woman and say ‘Oh, I wish I did this, I wish I did that’ No! Embrace life, and get out there!”


Miehl Has a Total BLAST While Teaching STEM

Science teacher Michael Miehl teaches a STEM class at St. Francis International School’s summer academy. It runs for the entirety of the month of July. The students are from elementary to middle school in age. Miehl says that it’s a chance to do activities that he does not get to do during the regular school year. He launches rockets, grows microgreens, makes paper, builds robots, creates stop-action movies, and teaches code.
He said the kids who get super involved have a blast (no pun intended). The program also has guest speakers who lecture and teach the students about various topics regarding STEM fields. Last year, Miehl and students visited a weather balloon and watched some liquid nitrogen demonstrations. They also visited NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Visitor Center. Miehl loves the opportunity to get involved in science in different ways, and this will be his 6th year teaching the class over the summer.


Scott Allen’s Summer Job Is Just Plane Awesome

When he isn’t coaching “It’s Academic” or gushing AP NSL knowledge during the school year, social studies teacher Scott Allen gives tours and helps with museum operations at the College Park Aviation Museum, on the grounds of the College Park Airport.

Allen often gives tours to summer camps made up of elementary school kids. He tells the story and history of the airport and shows the various planes. Additionally, he takes them through the museum’s Flight School and making, then launching, a glider or paper airplane.

“It’s a good balance because by the time the end of the school year hits, I’ve had my fill of teenagers,” Allen explained. “But by the end of the summer, I’m done with little kids and ready to come back and be with teens again.”

Allen dresses up as the museum’s mascot, Baron von Bear. The costume is a big fur bear suit with a leather jacket and flight goggles on top.


Banda Sculpts Her Craft

After school ends in June, art teacher Hailey Banda does not let two months of summer stop her from working on her craft. In her home ceramic studio with a kiln in her garage, Banda creates functional ceramic pieces such as cups, mugs, bowls, plates, vases, candle holders, and even table centerpieces for fine arts and craft shows in the fall. Banda’s pieces are recognizable by their distinct elegant flourish and a glossy finish.

She sculpts her pieces, then glazes them, and fires them in her “makeshift studio” to prepare for the shows. The festival she participates in most often is the Sugarloaf Arts and Craft Festival, which displays all different mediums of art–painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture/ceramics, and jewelry.
She enjoys taking her time on these projects so she can “focus on teaching” during the school year, and over the summer she can “focus on making.”

“I want to keep up with myself as an artist. I think it’s really important to stay updated with that and continue finding myself as an artist, so I can bring it back and introduce new things to my students.”
Banda further explained why her work can have a positive effect on her students. “It’s really good for [my students] to see me as a working artist … because you can make money doing this and it takes a lot of work, but it’s actually really cool.”


Kominski Is Rocking Out at Bethany Beach

During the summer, English and Theater teacher Elizabeth Kominski performs musical concerts with her husband and a handful of other artists. Her husband, Phil, is a musician who is in the rock band Lloyd Dobler Effect, which has played all over and even opened for some big artists such as Eminem and the Goo Goo Dolls. Kominski and her husband also are a folk duo titled The Bubbas, and have some original tracks on Spotify and Apple Music.

Since the family has a residency at Bethany Beach, they often play right on the beach and around the Eastern Shore during the summer. Sometimes, they even play at the Fairhill Shopping Center in Olney.
Kominski’s musical style varies between kids’ music, cover songs, and some originals, but she has the ability to adapt to whatever the venue chooses. Rock is her most common genre, but her cover songs lean more towards 80s hits.

On top of that, Kominski also will be training for a Chicago Marathon that occurs in the Fall. This will be her 8th marathon.

“I’m always moving, I’m always doing something,” Kominski explained. “I’m also helping keep the swim team running in the summer for my kids, so I don’t think that as a mom you ever really sit down and relax.”


Coutts Has Goat the Time for A Bit of Fun Yoga This Summer

Science Teacher Jill Coutts owns 20-25 goats on her farm in Ashton. Over the summer, her baby goats (kids) participate in Goat Yoga, which is yoga practiced by people in the presence of live goats.
A yoga instructor from the company “Yoga With Goats” sets up yoga outside. Typically, Coutts brings 6-10 kids to do yoga with the participants. “It’s really fun for [the goats] to go; they really enjoy it,” Coutts said.

During yoga, the goats jump on top of people and curl up on them. “Goats are really good for people with anxiety: they calm you down and are used for therapy. They’re like dogs–they really like you, and they let you pet them,” Coutts explained. “If you are an anxious person, it’s very de-stressing.”

Last year at Sherwood, Yoga teacher Ashley Barber-Strunk did goat yoga in her classes.

When the goats are born, they vary from a pound to a pound and a half. Over spring break, 6 were born, and a few more are due in less than a month.

“Raising goats is relaxing, and it’s fun,” Coutts said.