Enjoy this guest post from East Zeeland HS Choir teacher Jonathan Van Eck. I asked him to write it after he shared the number above on Facebook.


285:30. That’s 285 hours and 30 minutes.

That’s the amount of time I spent working this summer. Divide that out and it’s almost 22 hours per week.

When I tell people I’m a teacher, one of the most common responses I get is something like, “It must be so nice to have your summers off!” Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my summer. I was able to spend more time with my wife (Happy five-year anniversary, Carly!), I watched plenty of Food Network, and I was able to recharge for the fall. But I am never “off”.

Jonathan and Carly on Mackinac Island.

Jonathan and Carly on Mackinac Island.

Here’s how I kept myself busy over the last three months:

Concert music selection and score study – I compile and teach a brand new “textbook” each year in the choir room, and I need to be ready with the material by day one. This summer, I spent a lot of time incorporating instruments into choral music, working on my French pronunciation, and rapping along with Common! (Check out this YouTube playlist for our fall concert music.)

Open houses – I believe it is important to celebrate with the students and families that have been in my classroom and at our performances year after year! Somehow we ended up going to one of our last parties of the season, though, and Carly came away with a kitten…

Carly and our new kitten

Summer (class of ’15), Carly, and the new kitten.

Additional summer performance – I got together with the men of my Varsity Voices ensemble to rehearse a couple times, enjoy some pizza, and perform at a community street fair. Because who doesn’t love a little barbershop in July?!

Trip planning – This is my first time traveling out of state with students! We’re looking forward to an unforgettable trip to New York City, but in order to get there I needed to take care of the itinerary, contracts, deposits, fundraisers, payments, and so much more!

Summer Workshop – I had a great time connecting with other teachers, discussing classroom issues, and discovering new music. I was also able to work on my conducting abilities by participating in a masterclass.

Lesson Planning – I’m going into my fourth year of teaching, and I feel like I have to rebuild my approach to my curriculum every year. I’m getting the hang of what I like and what works, but I’m still trying new things and determining how the year will look.

This one time at band camp… – Yep, band camp. I had a blast with the low brass section each afternoon, and I even spent some time on the football field pretending that I knew how to read and interpret marching drill.

Choir camp – Rehearsals at school by day, and then pool parties and bonfires by night. It was a great way to get our top ensemble bonding and rehearsing together, and we got a head start on the school year.

There are thousands of teachers in districts and schools across the globe that bring so much effort and passion to the students they work with! This is just a brief glimpse into some of my activities during the summer of 2015. I may have worked 285:30 hours, and I’ll work plenty more during the school year, but the music made, lessons learned, and relationships formed are worth every minute.


Jonathan Van Eck just began his fourth year teaching in Zeeland, MI. He is the director of the Zeeland High School Choirs, teaches Advanced Placement Music Theory, and also assists with the band program in Zeeland.

Mr. Van Eck graduated from Calvin College with a degree in Vocal Music Education. He is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and the Michigan School Vocal Music Association (MSVMA). He and his wife Carly have been married for five years and live in Grandville, MI.

You can find his choirs on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.