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Gateway Staff Work Hard, Play Hard Over Summer Break

Female teacher helps a student with work on a laptop

Summer vacation is the envy of non-teachers the world over, but for Gateway teachers the summer months are much more than a chance to lounge poolside. Like teachers across the country, you’ll likely find them spending much of their break in a classroom -- perhaps in the role of a student, or mentoring peers. Summer professional development provides opportunities for Gateway teachers to hone their skills, collaborate with colleagues they might not meet otherwise, and reconnect with their passion for the teaching profession.

Here is just a small sampling of the many opportunities our staff will be pursuing this summer -- and some of the ways they’ll be having fun, too.

Larry Berroya, GHS:

Larry is looking forward to spending the summer at Stanford teaching Social Justice for SMASH, a residential summer academic and enrichment program for low-income, underrepresented high school students focusing on STEM education, mentorship and workforce opportunities. 

“People always say ‘Really? You want to spend your summer teaching?’ But it’s a completely different experience, and it puts me more in touch with why I teach,” he said. “It’s great to help SMASH students realize the power of their voice, and I bring that back into my teaching at Gateway.”

Outside of the classroom, Larry is in fact an accomplished poker player -- a game he appreciates for its mix of strategy and probability. He’ll be headed to Las Vegas this summer for the World Series of Poker, where he’ll be competing in games associated with the event. Good luck, Larry!

Elizabeth Colen, GMS:

Elizabeth will be participating in a workshop centered on questions of immigration and identity as well as co-facilitating a workshop about best advisory practices, both offered by the nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves

“I’m always thinking about ways to stay relevant and meet students in terms of the standards I’m teaching in ways that will be beneficial to them. What’s best for my classroom, for our school, and what’s going to keep students engaged?” she said. “I appreciate Facing History’s workshops because they don’t just give you a curriculum, but also focus on teaching strategies, so there’s always a double benefit.”

Elizabeth’s busy summer also includes spending time with her four month-old nephew,  traveling to LA, Hawaii and Big Bear, and “Marie Kondo-ing my whole apartment.” 

Aimee Heckman, GMS:

Aimee will be serving as an Instructional Coach with the Breakthrough Collaborative, mentoring new teachers in an intensive six-week program. Coaches review lesson plans, observe teachers in action, and provide feedback around targeted areas of pedagogy.

“After summer coaching at Breakthrough, I always try to bring back the energy, positivity, and intention around social justice work that my teaching fellows share with their students,” she said. “They care so deeply about making an impact and it's always a great reminder of the WHY we all do this work!”

“We have a new puppy at home, so I'll also be spending lots of time exploring the city with her!” she added.

Anastasia Zamkinos, GHS:

Anastasia is one of four Gateway teachers (along with Diane Sanchez, Lauren Carpol and Mary Plant-Thomas) completing the second year of the Hollyhock Fellowship Program at Stanford. The summer residency supports teachers serving high-need communities with intensive professional development around both academic content and the process of creating equitable, inclusive classrooms.

“I’ve found that (PD through the Hollyhock Fellowship) is better connected to the realities of my actual classroom than a lot of PD based outside Gateway,” she said. “I have the opportunity to work with my own student data and the focus is explicitly on equitable access for all students, which is in line with my values and that of our school.”

In addition to the two-week residency, Anastasia will be taking a trip to Tahoe and backpacking through rural Montana. “My theme for this summer is ‘recentering,’” she said.