Science Teacher Tells of Unique Life

Ms. Catherine Summer's father, a NYC police officer, shows what he does on the job.

Ms. Catherine Summer's father, a NYC police officer, shows what he does on the job.

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While being the daughter of a policeman and the wife of an Office of Special Investigations (OSI) agent, science teacher Catherine Summer faced unique experiences throughout her life. Though these circumstances caused stress, they also opened up opportunity.

Since Summer’s father worked at the New York Police Department (NYPD), her childhood was filled with worry about the possible harm he could face. She would wait up all night, close her eyes and wish she would hear his key in the front door or the sound of the garage slowly creaking up, but she always hit her pillow before she heard him tell her to have sweet dreams.

“There would be days when my father was in the emergency services. If there were riots or things going on in New York City, we would not see him for one or two days. It was very stressful on the family because we did not know if my father would get hurt or shot,” Summer said.

Being the spouse of a secret agent meant that Summer’s husband would have to leave on missions. Unaware of his location and circumstances, all she knew was little hints such as if he packed his suitcase suitable for either hot weather or cold weather.

“My husband was an OSI agent which meant he was a secret agent. [While he would be gone] his commander would call me every so often and tell me ‘he is fine.’ Occasionally, [my husband] would call me remotely and we would talk but he could never tell me where he was. It was an interesting lifestyle,” Summer said. “He went on a mission [that involved] doing protection for the Secretary of Defense. He went to Singapore, Australia and [other] countries in that region.”

Because her husband traveled, Summer was opened up to a world of opportunities. Together they traveled wherever his orders sent him, which just so happened to be Guam and Korea.

While working as a teacher, Summer lived in Guam for two years and Korea for a month.

“It was very international [in Guam]. I taught students who were mostly from Guam, the Philippines, Japan, Korea and the outer Pacific Islands,” Summer said. “Korea was different because I was mostly just visiting. I didn’t get to know a lot of people and the language barrier was bigger in Korea.”

 

As Summer met more of the locals on the island, she was invited to more social events. Her weekends were now filled with different food, lifestyles and means of fun than the typical American’s would be.

“We were invited to a lot of fiestas and on Friday and Saturday nights, we would go to all the villages and have a luau. We would eat roasted pig and all kinds of tropical foods and fruits,” Summer said.

Summer incorporates the culture she discovered into her different teaching abilities, as well as her styles. She shares stories with her students and inspires them to culture themselves.

“The insight expanded her abilities as a teacher. The stories about the countries she has lived in gives me a new perspective about our world because they were different from America’s. She not only taught us science but also how traveling and going out of your comfort zone can help you grow as a person,” sophomore Carrington DeJarnett.

Summer says that the culture gave her a wider range of perspective. She keeps traces of the lifestyles she learned while living in other countries and continues them in her American life today.

“In Guam, I learned as much as I was teaching. I learned about lifestyles and culture that were very different from what I was accustomed to. It was an eye opener,” Summer said.

 

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