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July 24, 2018

Your Summer is Served!

During the school year, we barely have enough time to eat lunch each day. The afternoon bell rings and we make a mad dash to the fridge to grab either a well-constructed, thoughtful, nutritious lunch…or leftovers from the previous night. Either way, the race is on. We are competing against an opponent who has the upper hand throughout the school year and more often than not, wins: time.

Isn’t this why summers are so cherished? It’s not the sun…. or the projects…or even the vacations: It’s the time. The school year is consumed with time-takers and the summer is a time-giver. The school year leaves us asking “Where did the time go?” and the summer’s reply is “Don’t worry, you have plenty of time.” If the school year was a meal during lunchtime, it would be fast food…The summer, however, is a sit-down restaurant with a full menu and most importantly, time to order, eat, and reflect on the meal before leaving.

As you think about your summer (or what’s left of your summer!), I’d like you to consider your “time menu” and what every teacher should order during their break away from school. After looking through the summer menu, you’ll want to select a beverage, appetizer, salad, entrée, and of course, a dessert.

Your summer server approaches your table and asks “Can I get you something to drink?” Of course, you might be tempted to order something that helps you to forget the school year, but for our purposes, I have something different in mind! You worked extremely hard during the school year and you’re thirsty for something refreshing and satisfying. During the summer, your beverage should be a mind-numbing TV show, series, or collection of movies. You might agree that as a part of each teacher’s annual contract, a subscription to Netflix should be mandated by some sort of administrative collective agency….It could be an excellent bargaining tool! Being able to “turn it off” during the summer is extremely important and what’s great about this particular beverage is the availability of refills.

“Have you had a chance to look at the menu?” Your summer server then says, waiting patiently. “Would you like to start with an appetizer or a salad?” Your answer should be “yes” and “yes!” Each summer, my salad item is a book. Salads are the start of and the healthy part of the meal….For me, a book selection is an academically healthy part of my break. I make a point to read something recommended by others during my time away from my students and interestingly, the last two summers, both of my selections have been ABOUT students (It’s hard to get away from school isn’t it!) I’d highly recommend “Wonder”, by R.J. Palacio. I’m not going to say that I cried while reading it, but I will tell you that there must be a high pollen count in Omaha this summer.

Appetizers are the selfish part of the menu. Everyone knows that they’re completely unnecessary and that’s why most everyone says “We really don’t NEED an appetizer…but let’s order one anyway!” Appetizers are the tinted windows, interior scotch guard treatment, and custom wheels the dealer dangles when you buy a new car. You don’t need any of it, but you WANT it. Summertime gives you the opportunity to order a time appetizer, so DO it. We spend the entire school year being “other-focused”, so be selfish and do something that is all about YOU.

“Have you made a selection?”, your summer server then asks. You’ve looked over the menu, flipped through the pages, consulted your friends & family….It’s now time to make the most important selection of them all…the entrée. The summer time entrée is the focus of the summer…what you’ll spend the most time on, or what you’ll SPEND the most on. You’ve looked through the menu and there are so many wonderful options, but it’s time to choose. There are always “specials” on entrees and you can pick from: taking classes (Learners Edge!), home projects, family time, down time, and so many others. If you’re like me, you usually order about 4 entrees because my plate is not only FULL during the summer, I end up ordering multiple plates with ALL of the entrees offered!….Maybe I should go on a summer time diet?

You’ve now sat back in your chair with a belly full of summer and your server appears. “Did you save room for dessert?” Your first instinct is to say “no” but, in my opinion, each summer “time meal” needs to have something sweet. Every summer, I take some sort of vacation….and so should you. It is the dessert of my summer. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, expensive, or even planned….but it needs to be. Desserts are the flavors that dance on our palettes and are our last tastes at the table…It’s what we remember. Getting away for a vacation is the best way to wrap up a summer meal and it’s worth it.

Before you know it, the bill will arrive and it will be time to go back to work. Leave a generous tip, knowing that soon it’ll be back to fast food as the race will, once again, be on.

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