Teachers Look Forward to Relaxing Winter Break

English teacher Bailey Player and Spanish teacher and senior dean Allison Riley discuss their plans for the winter break. Picture: Aman Hashim

With the winter holidays approaching, Pace teachers, who are likely not excited about grading exams, can’t wait to spend the break with their families and friends. Many teachers aim to finish grading exams within the first several days of winter break so they can relax for the remainder of the holidays. A number of teachers will be staying in Atlanta, including chemistry teacher Matthew Smentek, English teachers Katie Moss and Emily Washburn and math teacher Mathew Marsico.

Mr. Smentek, the new 10th grade CP chemistry teacher, is an Atlanta native. He plans to spend Christmas Eve with his mother and father and attend mass with his mother. “[My mom] sings in the church choir and will surely appreciate if I am there to support her,” said Mr. Smentek. “My mom, dad and I are very close and this is a family tradition we have been doing for a while now.” On Christmas Day, he will travel to Stockbridge and spend time with his fiancé and her family. “She has three brothers and her family has a lot of pets,” said Mr. Smentek. “She comes from a much bigger family which makes it a bit of a different feel. But I have known them for a while, and they treat me like family.” For Mr. Smentek, the winter holidays are a decompression before he starts coaching the lacrosse team in January.

Math teacher and Dean of Students Gus Whyte will be flying down to his hometown in Tampa as soon as he finishes grading exams. This is an annual trip he makes to be with his family. “I try to take advantage of the warmer weather and do something adventurous,” said Mr. Whyte. “I’ve done a few trips into the Everglades over winter break. If I have a few days I will certainly try and do that. Hopefully, if the weather is warm enough I’ll do some kayaking and go to the beach.” He plans to return to Atlanta after a week in Florida to support the wrestling team at their Prep Slam tournament.

Spanish teacher and senior dean Allison Riley will start off her break with her parents and her husband’s parents coming into town to visit their grandchildren. Then the whole family will drive down to the Georgia coast near Ossabaw Island. This vacation has been a tradition of theirs for the past five years. Mrs. Riley tries to avoid grading exams during the break, so she will work hard to finish them before the holidays begin.

English teacher Bailey Player will also head to the beach. He will stay in Atlanta for the Christmas holiday and then travel to the coast of Charleston, South Carolina for New Year’s. Mr. Player and his wife plan to attend the “Polar Bear Plunge” on Sullivan’s Island where people jump into the frigid waters of the Atlantic on New Year’s Day to benefit the Special Olympics. He tries to attend this event every other year with his wife.

Dr. Moss, Mrs. Washburn and Mr. Marsico will stay home this holiday season and spend time with their children and parents. Mrs. Washburn’s mother will be coming into town to visit. She plans on finishing grading exams before school is out so she can make the most of the break.

Dr. Moss will enjoy the holidays with her three children and her husband’s family. “My husband’s sister has a new baby, so it will be her first Christmas,” said Dr. Moss. “We look forward to making it a memorable one for her.”