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Meredith Holt, Published June 17 2013

School's out!: Summer break lets local teachers focus on other interests

FARGO - During the summer, Bennett Elementary fourth-grade teacher Kim Belgarde leaves the classroom for camp.

For the next couple months, the 45-year-old Horace woman will teach orienteering and archery instead of history and math.

Although Belgarde has been a camp director for 25 years, this year is her first leading the YMCA’s Camp Cormorant in Lake Park, Minn.

“I’m still working with kids, but at the camp, I’m also the moderator of staff, and it’s a little bit bigger scale than the classroom,” she says.

Summertime gives area educators an opportunity to do something different or focus on one of their interests.

At Camp Cormorant, Belgarde is also in charge of the budget, programming and grounds maintenance.

Her Fargo students are excited to see her in a different environment. At least two are coming next week.

“We hope to have 1,200 total kids here this summer,” she says.

Belgarde’s not the only one in her field to put on a different hat as soon as it gets hot.

“I have several friends who teach summer school, some who are working on their master’s, who paint houses or do construction, or have small businesses of their own,” she says.

College-level music instructors Peggy Hammerling and Chase Burkhart use the time to focus on private lessons and performance opportunities.

When school’s in session, Hammerling teaches flute and coaches chamber music ensembles for Concordia College and Valley City State University.

She also performs with several local groups, including the Silver Winds Flute Quartet and the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony.

“Music is a good endeavor, whether it’s your vocation or your hobby,” she says.

Although she teaches private lessons out of her Fargo home year-round, she has more time in June and July to help students round out their repertoire or prepare for competitions.

“Students are definitely more focused on their flute studies during the summer. It helps to have fewer extracurricular activities demanding their attention, even with their summer jobs,” she says.

In her 25 years of teaching, Hammerling has seen many students, from third grade to college age, improve over the years.

For Burkhart, who recently finished his fifth month of full-time teaching guitar at North Dakota State University, summer will be devoted to applying for new teaching opportunities, writing and performing.

On his schedule? Local bar shows, a few weddings, and his 10-year high school reunion.

In the meantime, he’s picking up extra shifts at his part-time job as a caregiver for Community Living Services.

“Between organizing/rehearsing for live music shows, corresponding with fellow co-workers, and oh yeah, I’ve decided I’m moving to the Twin Cities in the fall ... It’s hard to keep everything straight,” he says.

Since the 28-year-old Fargo man is new to teaching, he plans to apply for any and every open K-12 music position.

“The idea of starting from the ground up, slowly making a name for myself as both an educator and performer, is strangely appealing to me,” he says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590