Summer School

By Coutts, Lorelei | Dance Teacher, April 2005 | Go to article overview

Summer School


Coutts, Lorelei, Dance Teacher


Summer vacation is the perfect time to widen your expertise and gain new experience, all while making some extra money.

We've all heard the age-old expression that the three best reasons for being a public school teacher are June, july and August. It makes for great faculty room humor, but about 40 percent of teachers nationwide work a second (or third) job during summer break. Whether it's to bulk up a bank account, explore new territory or pursue a passion, a summer job can offer more than money. It can provide a break from the ordinary, a change of scenery and a chance to expand your horizons. You can use your time to develop your resume by working with different age levels, dance styles, teaching environments or approaches. With a little creativity and planning, your summer break can be rewarding in more ways than one.

Dancing for Dinero

Before you start your summer job search, ask yourself whether you want to work as a dance teacher or try something completely different. If dance is your preference, speak to your principal, arts coordinator, personnel director or regional supervisor about arts programs at local schools. Keep in mind that many summer school programs are remedial in nature, so you might want to propose a project that incorporates literacy, math or social studies with movement to jibe with summer curricula.

Contact area dance studios, fitness centers, yoga schools, YMCAs, gyms and youth centers that may need experienced teachers to fill their summer calendars. Don't be afraid to propose something new to their schedule, such as hip hop for kids, ballet for adults or swing for seniors. You've got nothing to lose and you may even plant the seed for a program in the fall.

Museums, parks and recreational centers might also be in the market for dance programs that focus on a specific theme or upcoming exhibit. Rachel Martinez, a K-3 dance teacher in Toledo, Ohio, created a summer workshop that focused on animal movements for kids in conjunction with a local zoo. Local community boards often have funding in their budgets for summer activities at playgrounds, parks or public spaces. They may be interested in a "dancin' in the streets" or a "salsa under the stars" program.

In addition, the travel and entertainment industries are always searching for performers, choreographers and teachers to work at resorts, various events and on cruise ships. be sure to check your union journals as well as the trade papers, such as Back Stage and Show Business, for job postings and auditions.

By far, the most plentiful source of summer teaching jobs is at the hundreds of summer camps across the country. You might have been a camper as a kid, but going back as an adult can be a whole new experience. Think of it as a nature retreat with the added bonus of a paycheck, free room and board, and no household chores for two months! At first, camp salaries may not seem that great, but remember that you'll have very few expenses during your stay. Most camps also offer bonuses to those who take on extra responsibilities, such as directing camp productions or supervising group outings. If you have children, they may be allowed to join you for a fraction of the regular cost. You might even consider renting out your home while you're away and adding that cash to your summer earnings.

Gigs for Greenbacks

Perhaps you have a hobby or passion that you can parlay into extra summer income? You could opt to recharge your batteries by spending your summer working in a completely different field. A group of high school teachers at John Jay High School in New York City listed an assortment of summer jobs they have held, including scuba instructor, lifeguard, firelighter, landscaper, baseball coach, computer teacher, foreign language instructor, travel agent and wilderness camp leader. …

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