June 10, 2008 · Updated 5:55 PM
"POULSBO - Nine months a year, Chad Gillespie is a teacher at North Kitsap High School. But when summer begins, Gillespie's work doesn't end; It merely changes locations. In Gillespie's case, he spends much of his summer helping fisherman pull rainbow trout out of the Yakima River on the eastern side of the state. Gillespie, who worked as a fishing guide for another company for several years, now has his own business, a business he runs when not working in the school district. Along with a new house and a new marriage, it has been a busy summer for Gillespie. I'm just about as busy as I want to be, Gillespie said. He is not the only North Kitsap teacher that statement applies to. Of the 418 teachers in the district, most of them work, and those who don't are often studying, working towards the master's degree they need to keep studying. Denise Zaske, who is the district's personnel director, said, said teachers are busier now than ever before. She said teachers didn't use to have all the obligations they now work under. In those days, teachers did get three months off, Zaske said. But fifteen years ago, new standards came in. Those standards require teachers to have 45 credit hours after their first five years of employment. While 45 credit hours may not sound like many, it basically equals a master's degree. That's something Gillespie, among many others, is planning to do. If you're going to get 45 credits, Gillespie said, you might as well get them with a master's degree. Gillespie wants to earn his degree in future summers with a weekend program, where the student goes to class all afternoon and night Friday, then spends all day Saturday and Sunday in class too. Instead of spending three summers studying, Gillespie said, you can spend only two years going during weekends. It costs a little more, but that's the way it is. Teachers often have to work in the summer just to keep informed of the subjects they teach. Those who teach construction may work with a construction crew; others who teach computers may spend all summer hunched over keyboards and monitors. Technology, in particular, can require instructors to go back to school every summer. Gillespie is also an example of that. He teaches technology education, and after school ended this year, he spent a week in the classroom catching up with everything that had changed. To keep current with that stuff, I constantly have to go to new training, Gillespie said. It's frustrating sometimes. You get something down to where you can teach it and present it, and it changes next year. Jim Noeldner, who is the head of the NKSD's career and technical education, helps his teachers stay current during the summer. This summer, he has several teachers working towards their master's degrees; several overseeing summer computer programs for students; several teaching summer school; one working construction; another running a yearbook camp; and another working on a documentary in eastern Washington. In career and technical education, if you're not up to date, you're not useful in the classroom, Noeldner said. The teachers have to be out learning things. It's required. In career and technical education, Noeldner said, teachers need to pile up 150 clock hours every five years in internships and training. Often, Noeldner said, It's nuts for young teachers. One of those young teachers, Theresa Aubin Ahrens, has kept busy this summer. She spent a week on internship at King County Metro, learning video production, web production, photography and graphics; she advised students in the Teen Aware program; she judged a student newspaper contest sponsored by Columbia University; and she became re-certified in computer programs such as Pagemaker, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Freehand, and Fireworks. I don't feel like I've had a summer, said Aubin Ahrens, who also is getting ready to host an upcoming yearbook camp (she is the yearbook advisor). Aubin Ahrens said, We change technology pretty fast. Everything has to be updated and re-done ... for everything I teach, I've been updating my skills this summer. It is likely that upcoming summers will be even more busy for teachers. While current teachers are exempt, newly-certified teachers will fall under the state's new requirements. Instead of less-structured credits, teachers will have to spend their summers being supervised by university and state officials. Zaske said five of the district's newly-hired teachers fall under the requirements, with more to come. While there may be more work to come, Zaske said, it falls in line with a teacher's job. What the teachers do in the summer is what they do during the school year - teach and learn, she said. "