The Summer 2023 Plans of Bronx Science’s Faculty

What do our teachers do during the summer months?


Tiankuo Zhang

Ms. Schmaier may teach government classes at Bronx Science from September to June, but she looks forward to summertime activities, too.

The very first day of school marks the start of an age-old countdown: “Number of Days ‘til Summer Vacation.” Now, with the school year over and three weeks into summer vacation, and with the weather growing ever more hot and humid, students have loaded up their summers with jobs and internships, programs, projects, vacations, and hang-outs. However, they’re not the only ones leaving the building for ten weeks. Teachers are just as excited for their annual break in routine. Often overlooked, teachers also line their “break” with the same things that we, the students, do! And here, in Bronx Science, our incredible educators use the time off in different ways. 

For some teachers, the opportunity to kick back is a welcome respite from routine. With few breaks throughout the year, and many of them being used to continue working and planning for the next lessons or topic for class, the summer months offer a real retreat. After all, September will bring new students, new colleagues, and new situations — for ten weeks, there’s no grading to get in; there’s no students to think about. Travel, family time, and leisure can finally be a priority for many hard-working staff. Ms. Nicole Sisilli, a Physical Education teacher, teaches many P.E. classes and health classes throughout the school year. Every summer, she looks forward to utilizing the community pool and the warm weather. Spending hours outdoors with her three year old is an important part of her recess. For Mr. Max Chomet, a Biology teacher, the summer is an opportunity to engage in new hobbies and enjoy what makes him happy. Just like students, over the summer, teachers can enjoy late nights and events that the rigid early mornings of work do not allow for. Chomet likes to use this to see as many shows as he can and see all of his favorite bands while they’re in town. The free time offers a chance to work on his own music projects, as well. 

There’s nothing more relaxing than a vacation far, far away from Bronx Science and the bustling city. Because most of the teachers’ days off throughout the year are few and far between, I’ve found that nearly all of them take the months of break to finally get away and hopefully cross some vacation spots off their bucket lists. English teacher Mr. Chris Ziegler will be taking full advantage of this, and has a full schedule of vacationing to see to, starting out with two weeks in Thailand and two weeks in northern Vietnam. Then, switching it up with some family-oriented locale, he’ll be spending three weeks at the family cabin on Higgins Lake in northern Michigan, and wrapping it up with his wife’s relatives in Ecuador. This year, Sisilli’s reunions entails a special adventure: a family vacation to St. Maarten! What better place to enjoy the sun than the Caribbean islands?

Ms. Daly is ready for some sun, as seen here with her adorable daughter and son-on-the-way! (Photo provided by Cailin Daly)

These are not the only teachers to partake in some family-bonding time. For Ms. Cailin Daly, a Chemistry teacher, summer is usually the time to travel to visit family and friends that don’t live nearby. However, now that she has a little girl at home — and a son on the way — she is excited to spend more time at home. She was excited to announce, “Lots of pools, popsicles, and outdoor play!” Mr. McNickle, of the Biology department, will be spending some quality family time in the woods, camping for a week or two before his kids’ summer programs begin. The rest of the summer, he added, would be time to catch up on chores and housework. For Mr. Chomet, the summer includes more than just his own interests. Something he is looking forward to is some weekly one-on-one time with his three-year-old niece. According to the Washington Post, teachers were found to work around 53 hours each week, which is 4 hours more than the average adult, every day. Because of this, summer time offers the crucial bonding time all parents (and uncles) need to establish concrete relationships with the youngest members in their family.

Of course, there are many things that can take you away from home other than vacations. Dr. Emily Schmidt, a Biology teacher, has done some incredible things with her summer months. Thanks to a grant from the Fund for Teachers, Schmidt was able to spend a month in Peru last summer. She was lucky enough to spend eleven days on the Amazon River on a research boat, where she helped survey biodiversity. Her travels, what she learned, and her experiences were able to be brought back into the classroom, as she continues to  apply fascinating firsthand knowledge and stories to her lessons. Keeping up the trend, Dr. Schmidt again won a grant from the Fund for Teachers to participate in a teacher/educator course at Bimini Shark Lab in the Bahamas this summer of 2023. “I’ll be there for a week in July studying shark behavior and conservation,” said Schmidt. Ms. Samantha Schmaier, a Social Studies teacher who’s been teaching at Bronx Science for the past two years, is looking forward to working on the staff at a summer camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Staying involved and helping out at a camp that she once participated in is a fulfilling summer job for her. 

Summer jobs are an integral part of most teachers’ summers, especially because most travel plans don’t span the entire two-plus months, and relaxing downtime can often turn into restless downtime. Many teachers continue to come into work here at Bronx Science, teaching classes over the summer for students, ranging from incoming ninth graders to rising seniors, looking to catch up on or get ahead in credit requirements. In addition to summer school, this summer holds a particularly exciting event: the Stanley Manne building will be opened for use for the first time. “Bronx Science will host several intensive Summer Institutes at the Manne Institute labs so that students can pursue their independent projects beyond the school year,” notes the Bronx Science Foundation’s website. Certain teachers from each Science department, such as Mr. Chomet, will be working for about a week in these summer research programs, assisting students in their research. Dr. Schmidt, fresh from the Bahamas, is also excited to be running the Animal Behavior Summer Research Institute at the Manne Institute building. There’s is more than teaching for teachers to complete, however. Mr. Chomet, for instance, is a member of a hiring committee that helps find and screen candidates for teaching jobs at Bronx Science. This year, he will be conducting interviews, writing reports, and hopes to be analyzing data with the goal of recruiting the best possible people to come work at our school. 

Starting over and saying goodbye every single year is sometimes difficult, especially because high school is such a crucial point in the development of students’ lives. Teachers may have spent the year, or years, in many cases, mentoring and coaching students, building them up into the wonderful and successful graduates that Bronx Science celebrates every year. Despite the farewells, the summer must come to an end, and teachers must regroup, prepare their lessons, and get ready to meet their new students. And with the start of school, the countdown begins again. 

“Lots of pools, popsicles, and outdoor play!” said Ms. Cailin Daly, Chemistry teacher.