SHERIDAN — Not many professions provide a three-month break each year, but teachers often enjoy a few months off each summer before the new school year takes off. Instructors fill their summers in various ways: preparing their classrooms and lesson plans for the upcoming year; working toward a certification or post-graduate degree; and spending more time with family.
For some educators, summer entails working a different job.
Sheridan High School science teacher Andy Lowe runs Woodchuck Construction, a carpentry business. Lowe does small home projects that take between one and five days, like cabinet work and door and window replacement.
Lowe’s father was a forestry professor so Lowe was always outside growing up and learning tricks of the trade. After college, he taught for several years, then was a full-time carpenter for a few years before returning to teaching.
He has worked at several larger companies where he learned a lot about woodwork from more experienced carpenters.
Lowe said carpentry is never boring because every aspect of a project presents something new.
“One of the things I really love about carpentry is the problem-solving,” Lowe said. “Especially when you’re fixing things for people or redoing something, looking at it and going, ‘OK, what’s wrong with it? What needs to happen? How can we get this put together so everything gets fixed and also looks good?’”
Both teaching and carpentry require specific skillsets, although the actions are significantly different. Lowe prefers it that way and enjoys the balance of social, performative teaching and the quiet solitude of carpentry.
“Teaching is real cerebral and working with kids and a lot of people,” Lowe said. “Carpentry, I work mostly by myself … About the time I’m getting tired of [carpentry], it’s time to go back to school. They really complement each other.”
The two jobs intermingle occasionally. Lowe sometimes uses carpentry as a way to illustrate physics problems. He also does work for other educators or hears about potential jobs from other teachers.
Lowe very occasionally has a project during the school year but does almost all of his carpentry in summer.
“I love teaching,” Lowe said. “It’s not something I want to give up.”
Sheridan High School assistant disciplinarian Raith Durham works in outside services at The Powder Horn golf club. Durham meets and greets members as they begin and end their golf rounds, cleans golf clubs and carts and picks up balls on the driving range.
“Making sure that golfers are enjoying their experience and setting them off on the right course, all that kind of stuff,” Durham said.
Durham began working at The Powder Horn in August 2016 and stayed there for several months. He came aboard again in March 2017 for the entire golf season and started again last month after the school year ended. Going forward, Durham will work at The Powder Horn June through August every summer.
The two jobs don’t intersect much, but Durham sometimes sees students or parents he knows. He said it is nice to see kids in a social setting instead of a more rigid school environment. Durham is also a football and basketball coach, so he usually works three or four weekdays at The Powder Horn from around 1 to 9 p.m. because of coaching responsibilities in the morning.
Other summer jobs may pay more, but Durham said the free golf he receives is an excellent benefit.
“I’m sure I could find a job that would pay more, but it’s hard to find a job with that kind of perk,” Durham said.
Big Horn Middle School and High School teacher Andrew Marcure started working full time at Fly Shop of the Bighorns in June. His responsibilities include tying flies, filling bins, selling rods and getting bait ready.
So far, Marcure said the new job has gone well. He enjoys interacting with people in the community on a subject he cares about and both giving and receiving recommendations.
“I wanted to be involved and I wanted to do something that was going to be beneficial and it was something I wanted to learn,” Marcure said. “It’s a completely different change of pace.”
Marcure fished a lot growing up and his wife introduced him to fly fishing about four years ago.
“It’s kind of like one of those ‘stop and smell the roses’ types of activities,” Marcure said of fly fishing. “I’m not listening to music. I’m listening to the river and just kind of hanging out and enjoying the time.”
The new job has undoubtedly improved his fishing skills.
“Everybody that comes in has a story about a fish or a technique or a place,” Marcure said. “You learn about all these different ways to fish or different places to go.”
Marcure also coaches football and track at Big Horn High School, so he won’t work at the shop during school but would like to keep working there in future summers.
The job isn’t too similar to teaching or coaching except that Marcure has a similar mindset and tries to connect with people to build relationships.
“Be someone that has a good energy and aura about you,” Marcure said. “That’s equally important.”
The three educators, along with many of their peers, have different summer jobs for different reasons, but the similarities and connections come in handy when they return to the classroom.