June means so many different things to people: June brides, graduation, summertime, vacation, moving, a new job, the beginning of summer school, lazy afternoons at the pool, hitting the links, sleeping in, and for teachers, the end of another school year. I always hoped that last day of school would be warm and sunny, so I could put my convertible roof down and drive away from school with a complete sense of freedom. There really is nothing quite like the feeling of the last day of school.
As many teachers use the summer to relax and unwind, many also travel to learn new things to present to their students. Many of my Latin teacher friends have been to Rome and Italy several times; my Spanish teacher friends have been to Mexico, Spain, and Central America; my German and French teacher friends have spent months in Germany and France; and my World Cultures friends have traveled all over the world, all looking for that first person point of view to add interest and spark to their teaching presentations. One of the things I loved the most about being a part of the North Allegheny staff was the teachers, and how they continually used their personal time to enrich their professional lives, thus enhancing their students’ lives. Students absolutely love the personal stories about travel! I went to Rome many years ago and had some pictures taken at the rostrum where Mark Antony gave his famous funeral oration in Julius Caesar. I distinctly remember reciting the first 20 or so lines while standing there, trying to grasp the fact that I was standing where Antony spoke, and I was seeing the spot where Caesar was murdered and walking on the Appian Way, where Caesar walked. When I told these stories and shared my feelings of awe and wonderment with my students, I remember how many of them said they, too, wanted to travel to see such sights. Many did, and for years, I received letters from former students telling me they finally got to Rome to stand in those sacred spots I had talked about. These students grew personally because they were seeing things through new eyes. What was just a play by Shakespeare that we studied in tenth grade, about a man who lived from 100-44 B.C., suddenly became important, as students remembered that the American justice system is based on Julius Caesar’s code of law; that Caesar was unrivaled as a war strategist; that he was a real man, in love with Cleopatra and having a son with her. My former students were suddenly reading articles and biographies about Caesar and Rome and the Roman government, even though they were no longer in school! Can any teacher give a greater gift than the love of learning? And the love of learning, combined with the scope of travel and having new experiences, can be a life changing force.
For all of the teachers and parents and students who read this blog, I would love to hear how travel enhanced your life and changed you, making you see your world in a new way. Happy summer vacation!
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