What Do BHS Teachers Do Over The Summer?


Burlington High School teachers have a wide range of interesting summer plans.

Cerella Farinholt

Naturally, just as students eagerly count down the days to summer vacations, teachers look forward to the three-month escape from managing snarky teenagers and grading impossible-to-decipher worksheets.  However, many teachers take on a completely new set of responsibilities between June and August.  From working a second job to embarking on home-improvement projects to spending time with their families, teachers at BHS engage in a diverse range of summer activities. The Register took an inside look into how some of those teachers utilize their summer breaks.  

Matthew Yu: Aspiring Novelist

Matthew Yu, an English teacher, plans to devote his summer to taking care of his new pug puppy Wanda, maintaining his tractor and writing his first novel.  

“All I can say is that it’s about a high achieving student who unexpectedly involves himself in a dark and complicated situation to save his family and his future,” Yu said.

Yu draws inspiration from his own unique experiences.  

“In terms of my inspiration–this is going to sound very Kanye of me, but I inspired myself for this one,” Yu said, referring to the well-known rapper.

So far, Yu has completed a concept map on which he has outlined the different character and event connections present in his novel.  

“It gets revised and edited a lot. I am planning to just bang it out and have friends, hopefully, edit the manuscript,” he said.

Yu says his teaching experience affects his writing style and process.  

“1. I’m exposed to a lot of writing styles and approaches, in which my exposure to and editing of has helped me become a more dynamic writer. 2. Meeting different students, thus, different personalities, has allowed me to create and develop more interesting, dynamic, and ridiculous yet still realistic characters,” Yu said.

Sean Fleming: Superhero

Sean Fleming, a history teacher, competes in Ironman and other hardcore running and biking competitions, but his toughest and most rewarding job is being the father of his nine-month-old twins.  

While Fleming is an avid biker, swimmer, and runner year-round, he is able to fully focus on and elevate his training and performance during summer months.

“I love training.  If I’m addicted to anything, I’m addicted to running, biking, and swimming,” Fleming said.

Fleming’s passion for training goes hand in hand with his general love for being outdoors.  This summer, he hopes to spend lots of times outside with his children and watch them grow. He is pumped to get them out on Lake Champlain, and play with them in their waterhole on the family’s Charlotte farm.  

An average day in Mr. Fleming’s summer vacation is set up as follows:

Wake up early, get a quick breakfast
Go to the pool to swim an average of 2300 yards
Spend time with family/compete/develop lesson plans
Complete a bike ride or run of about 30 miles

Senora Govea: Renaissance Woman

Senora Govea, who teaches Spanish and French, loves to learn. While some view summer vacation as an intellectual time-out, Govea views her three-month break from teaching as an invitation for personal learning.  

Govea is pursuing a summer course that will help her better use and understand Smartboard technology in her foreign language classes.  

“I absolutely love technology,” Govea said. “And I want to use it as much as possible in my classes.”

She is also enrolled in a conversational French class this summer. Originally from Ecuador, Govea learned French as a third language in Montreal, and holds a bachelor’s degree in the subject.  While she is a seasoned French student and teacher, she hopes to continue to grow as a fluent speaker.  

Govea also plans to enroll in summer cooking classes, through which she can learn and sample new vegetarian recipes for her and her family.  

Finally, Govea is a successful writer in her native Ecuador.  She hopes to make her novels,  Lejos de Cuenca  (Far from Cuenca, My Native City) and Mis versos en tierra ajena (My Poetry in a Foreign Country) available in America.  

Mike Havens: Card Shark

Math teacher Mike Havens views his break from teaching as an invitation to indulge in another one of his passions: playing poker. While Havens is involved in the competitive poker world year-round, the influx in free time allows him to compete more often

Havens began his poker career after inventing a successful strategic game plan in a college mathematics course.  Driven by a fascination over the sport’s relationship with statistics and probability, he spent over two months studying and perfecting a theory that he dubbed “bull stats.”  

After one weekend of testing out his theory, he walked away with a large sum of money.  This jump-started a two-year stint as a professional poker player that preceded Havens’ teaching career.

Now, years later, spending time with family is Havens’ most important goal for the summer.  While poker is remains a passion, he understands that the sport has the power to disconnect him from the other things and people he loves.  

“It took over my life and I lost moments I’ll never get back,” Havens said on the impact of his early poker career. “Any sane person should desire to play the game recreationally, not professionally.”