Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Once more unto the breach...

Tomorrow morning I head off to Washington College in lovely, bucolic Chestertown, Maryland, for another six weeks teaching Writing & Imagination for the Johns Hopkins CTY summer program.

Some odd bits of information about my CTY summers:

Laurie and I tag-team taught the course for five of the first six years. I've been doing it solo ever since. Chuck was a Teaching Assistant for two summers. Sammi was a Resident Assistant and then Senior RA for four.

In the first ten years, I had ten different Teaching Assistants. At the end of that tenth summer, Lauren said that she planned to come back. She did, as TA, co-instructor and then as instructor of her own section of the course. Last year, I had the first new TA since 2003, though Lauren and I co-instructed the second three-week session. This year I will have another new TA -- the first male TA since way back in 1994.

I've taught more than 375 students over the years. There have been a number of siblings who took the class in different years, as well as at least two sets of twins who were there together. The eleven- and twelve-year-olds who made up our first class are now turning 30!

I have lived in the same dorm room for eight of the past nine years. In total, I have spent about 76 weeks at Washington College. That would put me into my junior year there.

Long-time staff members have a "CTY t-shirt countdown" over the course of the three-week session. Starting with the current year's shirt, we go backwards a shirt a day. As you might imagine, I am always the last man standing. However, I now have more shirts than we have class-days, so there are a couple of times when I double up, changing shirts at lunchtime. Some years, the kids notice fairly quickly; other years we get to the last week before one of the students asks, "Just how many CTY shirts do you have?"

Since the Chester 5 Theater opened, we have been getting a special Tuesday night discount for CTY staff members. We'll go see pretty much anything... and there have been some awfully bad movies released in the past dozen summers! It is agreed that "Legally Blonde 2" is the worst movie we have ever gone to see, with "Miami Vice" in second place.

Of all the strange things I have seen students do, perhaps the greatest number of them involve the toasters in the dining hall. Over the years I have seen watermelon, potato chips, and ice cubes put in them. (Not surprisingly, none of these "experiments" went well.) And a summer doesn't pass without at least one pre-buttered slice of toast or pre-cream-cheesed bagel.

So here comes CTY Chestertown 2011. We shall see what delights and surprises it brings...


  1. I taught Astronomy at CTY sites in 1991, 1992, and 1993.

  2. I'll never forget the giant ball made entirely of tiny marshmallows plucked out of a blocks of Lucky Charms, eaten (as I recall) like an apple by one of our students.

    Say hello to Chestertown for me, Bob.