We’ve all heard the age-old expression that the three best reasons for being a public school teacher are June, July and August. It makes for great faculty room humor, but about 40 percent of teachers nationwide work a second (or third) job during summer break. Whether it’s to bulk up a bank account, explore new territory or pursue a passion, a summer job can offer more than money. It can provide a break from the ordinary, a change of scenery and a chance to expand your horizons. You can use your time to develop your resumé by working with different age levels, dance styles, teaching environments or approaches. With a little creativity and planning, your summer break can be rewarding in more ways than one.

Dancing for Dinero
Before you start your summer job search, ask yourself whether you want to work as a dance teacher or try something completely different. If dance is your preference, speak to your principal, arts coordinator, personnel director or regional supervisor about arts programs at local schools. Keep in mind that many summer school programs are remedial in nature, so you might want to propose a project that incorporates literacy, math or social studies with movement to jibe with summer curricula.


Contact area dance studios, fitness centers, yoga schools, YMCAs, gyms and youth centers that may need experienced teachers to fill their summer calendars. Don’t be afraid to propose something new to their schedule, such as hip hop for kids, ballet for adults or swing for seniors. You’ve got nothing to lose and you may even plant the seed for a program in the fall.

Museums, parks and recreational centers might also be in the market for dance programs that focus on a specific theme or upcoming exhibit. Rachel Martinez, a K–3 dance teacher in Toledo, Ohio, created a summer workshop that focused on animal movements for kids in conjunction with a local zoo. Local community boards often have funding in their budgets for summer activities at playgrounds, parks or public spaces. They may be interested in a “dancin’ in the streets” or a “salsa under the stars” program.

In addition, the travel and entertainment industries are always searching for performers, choreographers and teachers to work at resorts, various events and on cruise ships. Be sure to check your union journals as well as the trade papers, such as Back Stage and Show Business, for job postings and auditions.

By far, the most plentiful source of summer teaching jobs is at the hundreds of summer camps across the country. You might have been a camper as a kid, but going back as an adult can be a whole new experience. Think of it as a nature retreat with the added bonus of a paycheck, free room and board, and no household chores for two months! At first, camp salaries may not seem that great, but remember that you’ll have very few expenses during your stay. Most camps also offer bonuses to those who take on extra responsibilities, such as directing camp productions or supervising group outings. If you have children, they may be allowed to join you for a fraction of the regular cost. You might even consider renting out your home while you’re away and adding that cash to your summer earnings.

Gigs for Greenbacks

Perhaps you have a hobby or passion that you can parlay into extra summer income? You could opt to recharge your batteries by spending your summer working in a completely different field. A group of high school teachers at John Jay High School in New York City listed an assortment of summer jobs they have held, including scuba instructor, lifeguard, firefighter, landscaper, baseball coach, computer teacher, foreign language instructor, travel agent and wilderness camp leader. In some cases, these summer flings turned into profitable side businesses for a few enterprising teachers.

If you’re looking for short-term employment with minimum commitment, consider contacting a temp agency. As a temp, your hours may be flexible and you’ll gain office experience along the way. Hotels, restaurants and retail stores are also busy in the summer months and often find themselves short-staffed. Working in a local boutique gave Margaret Ward, a K–3 teacher in Boston who also owns a dance studio, just enough retail experience to add a dancewear annex to her school.

If you’re looking to really break away, think about working abroad for the summer. American teachers are in high demand for jobs as camp directors and instructors, tour guides, program coordinators and English teachers in countries around the globe.

Learning for Loot

Summer seminars, institutes and fellowships are available to K–12 educators through a number of government and private sources. Generally, teachers who participate in these programs receive stipends of up to $5,000 to cover their time, tuition, travel and housing costs. The National Endowment for the Humanities offers dozens of institutes through July and August on the following topics and more: Shakespeare, American Literature and Pluralism, Teaching Jazz as American Culture, Poetry, World War II, Don Quixote, Mozart’s Worlds and Landmarks of American History.

The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Geographic Society and many foundations also sponsor similar paid seminars for teachers. You may find summer study grants in conjunction with your local school system, colleges or universities, or a nearby museum or library.

Hunting for Hook-Ups
If you want to land the summer job of your dreams, start your search early and don’t forget to network. Tell your friends, colleagues, students and parents to keep you posted about anything that might sound interesting. In the meantime, do your own research and update your resumé, contacts and business cards. You have nothing to lose, except for a few months’ time. Your teaching job will still be there when fall rolls around and hopefully you’ll return a little bit richer, in more ways than one! DT


Lorelei Coutts is a public school dance teacher in New York City.

Thinkstock

With Thanksgiving approaching, we're all ruminating on the things we are most thankful for in the world. Of course, as dance teachers, our students are always at the top of our list. They make us laugh, they make us cry and sometimes they make us want to pull our hair out, but at the end of the day, they are the reason for everything we do in the studio each day. To get you thinking about how much you love your dancers, here are five videos of kids dancing that are sure to make your heart happy! We want to see the dancers you're thankful for this season, too, so share your favorite videos on social media, tag us and include #gratitudedance in the caption. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

No matter how hard I work to change it, I'm often told that I have a shallow plié. Is there any hope for improving the depth of my plié through special stretches to make it juicier? I'm doing a lot of exercises, but I don't seem to getting any results. Looking forward to reading your advice. Thanks!

Keep reading... Show less
Videos

When New York City–based dancer Dan Lai began choreographing Figure 8, he had a specific vision in mind. Inspired by a song by FKA Twigs, he wanted the movement to represent the music's "dark and twisted vibe." "My thought process was to make shapes and phrases that were abstract and unique that complimented the intricate beats of the music," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Buzz
Thinkstock

Science has proven again, again that dancing is just, well, good for you. And not even in moderation. Like drinking water or laughing, there's no such thing as too much dancing. So, let's rejoice for this new dance perk to add to the list.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
To make dancers stronger and less injury-prone, Burns Wilson suggest adding floor barre or conditioning classes. Photo courtesy of Burns Wilson

With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

Keep reading... Show less
Erdmann (left) on set for Hairspray Live. Courtesy of Erdmann

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focused transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, Erdmann applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

Keep reading... Show less
How-To
Photo by Nancy Adler, courtesy of Maria Hanley

When a principal, teacher, or parent walks into a room and sees 20 children rolling around on the floor and then leaping for the sky (learning about level changes), or jumping about like frogs (in a role-playing improvisation activity), they might not always understand what's going on. That's why Deborah Damast, clinical assistant professor and artistic advisor of the dance education program at NYU Steinhardt, offered up several responses as to why this type of movement—often a precursor to formal ballet/tap/jazz classes—is so very important.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored