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Teachers' Time Off

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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2007 10:00 pm

Jeff Palmquist is one of those men who's done with his work day by 3 p.m. He gets weeks off for vacation every couple of months. He has the time to lay on the floor with his children in the middle of the afternoon.

Palmquist is a Lodi High School English teacher. His lifestyle is the envy of countless men and women who wake up to a buzzing alarm clock, dress in suits, ties and pantyhose and head to an office until sundown. While they are in their 10 a.m. meeting, he might be out in the summer sun, reading for pleasure, taking trips or just getting out of bed.

Chances are, that while he can do all of that, he is not - at least not all of the time. He spends his summers selling houses for his own real estate company, working with his wife, Leah, to start an adoption program through their church and starting an exercise business for parents and their children who are still in strollers. And that is all while being the McNair High School summer school principal.

During the summer months, it's not only students who run from the classrooms. Many teachers and school staff members do, too. Whether attending conferences, going on European vacations or pursuing business ventures, educators are well aware of the time they have off, and they aren't afraid to take full advantage of it. While most nine-to-fivers are jealous of the teacher's nine month work year - that includes weeks of vacation in between - some teachers say their jobs would be impossible without the breaks.

This summer, Lodi High School teachers Jeff and Jennifer Tillet walked away from campus and down the aisle. They then rented an apartment on Lake Como in Northern Italy and toured the country during their month-long honeymoon. Jennifer Tillet admits that if they weren't teachers, it would have been impossible to spend an entire month in Italy. Still, she says the breaks are important and make a difference in the classroom.

"I don't know if the breaks are so much of a perk as a necessity," she said. "We need it for mental well-being."

Jeff and Jennifer Tillet, both teachers at Lodi High School, spent their summer break by getting married and honeymooning in Italy. One of their many stops was at the Roman Coliseum. (Courtesy photo)

Teaching summer school - It's laid back, pays well and most teachers are done working in the early afternoon.
Attending conferences - There are many types of conferences that teach teachers about new methods, curriculum and how to be better in the classroom. It's a way to make a few bucks and still have time to do what you want.
Competing in tournaments - When she's not honeymooning in Italy, Jennifer Tillet usually spends part of her summer at speech and debate tournaments. It's a fun way to get out of town and hang out with students.
Coaching - Jeff Tillet coaches cross country during the summer. The team meets regularly during the week, but still allows open days.
Vacationing - Don't forget that behind the glasses, teachers are real people, too. They like to get away.
Staying home to work on their hobbies - Believe it or not, some teachers have a green thumb or a crafty side.
- Source: News-Sentinel Staff

Becky Jauregui, college and career advisor at Lodi High School, agrees.

"It's recharging our batteries," Jauregui said. "It's non-stop from the time we get to school until the time we leave."

Jauregui says education is different than many other professions. Teachers and school staff have little down time and often take their work home. Even though she says the students are the best part of her job, the thing she struggles with most is fitting everyone in and then leaving her work at work.

Until school starts next week, Jauregui plans to enjoy the last of her reading, working on ceramic mosaics (for therapy) and a little sewing. She's back in Lodi after spending 10 days in Tahoe and taking mountain trips with her family to do some kayaking, river rafting and camping in Bodega Bay and Yosemite.

Lincoln High School drama teacher Mike Bartram may have left the classroom, but he couldn't leave the stage. This summer - and the previous five summers - he has worked with nearly 100 students on summer productions with the Changing Faces Theater Company that he helped start. Though his nights are busy with play practice, he did give himself time to take a Disneyland vacation with his wife and young children.

For Palmquist and his wife, Leah - the self-professed guppy entrepreneurs - teaching works with everything else they want to do.

"We're kind of business-minded, and teaching blends well with that," he said.

For Palmquist, the most important thing is working in fields he enjoys and spending time with his family. They keep busy with three children - Abby, 6; Peter, 3 and Isaac, 18 months. He says life is too complicated to do things he doesn't enjoy.

"The reason I'm still probably a teacher is because I want to do something I'm really passionate about and care about."

Contact reporter Lauren Nelson at



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