At The Bush School, faculty who have taught at Bush for seven years or more are eligible to take a one-semester sabbatical, funded via the George W. Taylor Faculty Endowment Fund.
The 2016–2017 George Taylor Sabbatical Grant recipient was Kristin Gimelli Hemme, Eighth Grade Science Teacher. Kristin has been at Bush for nineteen years as an active leader in the Middle School faculty, currently serving as Grade-Level Coordinator for the Eighth Grade.
During Kristin’s sabbatical, she focused on developing new backpacking skills in order to lead Middle School wilderness and E-Week backpacking trips. She attended the Mountaineers Backpacking Basics Series and a Staying Found class. She learned about gear, how to manage weight, how to navigate using maps and a compass, and got to explore new areas of the Pacific Northwest. Kristin returned to Bush in the fall of 2017 prepared to lead backpacking trips and teach map and compass skills.
For Kristin, the time was also valuable as a way to recharge and pursue personal interests. She explains, “It gave me a lot of time to be self-directed and accomplish things that I wanted to accomplish, both personally and professionally.” Kristin, who has led Organic Gardening E-lectives and E-weeks in the past, was able to dedicate time to her own garden, and to read about new research on how microbes interact in our gardens. She attended a three-day peace circle training class in May, learning to mediate soulful, intentional conversations. Kristin found that “stepping out and doing that class on sabbatical meant that I had a greater appreciation of it.”
At Bush, teachers are encouraged to bring their whole selves to the classroom, and taking a sabbatical can provide time to pursue outside passions. As Kristin reflects, “It’s important because you have time to explore your own interests and creative pursuits that you can share that with students and bring back into the classroom.”
None of these benefits would be possible without the generous donors who established and contribute to the fund. “Thank you,” Kristin says, “for providing the funding and for having the vision to see that something like this would be really helpful for teachers and really valuable for the school as a whole. This is something that is very needed.”