Faculty Answer Back-to-School Prompt, “What I Did This Summer”

  • Voices
Faculty Answer Back-to-School Prompt, “What I Did This Summer”
Ravenscroft Communications

From checking off bucket-list experiences to learning new skills and celebrating career highlights, Ravenscroft faculty share how they made the most of their summer break.

For our August Voices piece, we turned the tables on our faculty and asked them to respond to the traditional back-to-school writing prompt, “What I did this summer.” Here’s what they had to say!

I got married this summer! Bryan Sinnett and I were married at Montage at Palmetto Bluff on July 7. Our Ravens, Brynner ’30 and Fischer ’34, were our Maid of Honor and Best Man. We are so thankful for our Ravenscroft community and were so excited to become a family this past summer!

— Avera (Acai) Sinnett, First-Grade Teacher

My husband, Joel Karpowitz (Upper School English teacher), and I purchased a new home this summer and also celebrated our 20-year wedding anniversary! I also completed my master’s degree in art education from the University of Nebraska Kearney. It was a big summer for us! 

— Amelia Karpowitz, Lower School Art Teacher

This summer was very busy for our family. My son Conner plays lacrosse, and we traveled to Utah, Virginia, Philadelphia and Maryland — we had six tournaments this summer! We also just got a new puppy named BB.  

— Lourdes Andrews, Kindergarten Teacher Assistant

A highlight summer adventure was a backpacking trip in the Smokies with my sons, Michael ’27 and James ’28. Lots of miles, pounds, sweat and smiles — 32.7 miles and 5547.9-foot elevation in four days on the Lakeshore Trail. It was hard living like turtles. We got stuck and helped lift one another up both physically and mentally. The beauty of Lake Fontana is spectacular! We entered the trail at the dam and exited through the tunnel on The Road to Nowhere in Bryson City. It was wild. Thank you to my cousin, Ed, for helping me show my sons how to be both vulnerable and strong.

— Michelle Schulze, Fifth-Grade Teacher

A grid of photos showing LS teachers

Clockwise from top left: Avera Sinnett; Amelia Karpowitz; Lourdes Andrews; Michelle Schulze


I kicked off my summer being honored for creativity and innovation in the classroom by Walt Disney World in their 50 Teacher Celebration! Though I love Disney for the obvious nostalgic and magical opportunities, my true love for them is based on the educator inside of me. The greatest learning experiences are formed in imagination-based learning. My essay was about “Think….What if?,” and it won over thousands of other submissions across the country. I heard from top Disney executives, Imagineers and Broadway star Alton Fitzgerald White. The Imagination Campus engaged us in an experience of collaboratively designing a theme park, and we even participated in choreography for Broadway’s “Frozen II.” We were honored with all-expenses paid travel and accommodations, a ride on Guardians of the Galaxy on its opening night (with its lead imagineer!), private fireworks viewing and a special dinner. My favorite experience was a sky-is-the-limit bucket list item: we were Grand Marshals in a Disney parade. As we walked through the parade, thousands of parents and children cheered and waved to us. It was one of the highlights of my life, and I am honestly grateful to Ravenscroft for understanding the importance of imagination in academics.

— Doris Matal, Middle School Language Arts Teacher

This summer my husband, Nelson, and I achieved something we’ve been working on for a while: for both of us, Alaska was our 50th visited state! About five years ago, my parents started planning a family trip to Alaska to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. We planned a few road trips so that we could check off a few missing states before finishing with Alaska in 2022. We managed to hit North Dakota on our way to Yellowstone in 2019, and in 2021 we visited Arizona for a Grand Canyon trip. We are grateful for the opportunities for travel we both had growing up with our own families, and we will treasure the travel memories we are making with our own family now.

— Michelle Nunalee, Middle School Science Teacher

My summer highlight was taking a trip to Puerto Morelos, Mexico, with my family. While there, I had the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks as they migrated through the northern Gulf of Mexico. It was important to us to swim with them in an ethical and environmentally conscious way, and we were able to find a local marine biologist who takes small groups on whale-shark tours and is very careful to follow local environmental laws and regulations. It was an amazing, bucket-list experience — you really don't appreciate how big a 30-foot shark is until you're swimming next to it!

— Merritt Cole, Middle School counselor
 
A grid of teacher photos

Clockwise from top left: Doris Matal; Michelle Nunalee; whale-shark photo by Merritt Cole


This summer my wife and I took our daughter to Acadia National Park in Maine! We spent the week hiking, eating delicious food, watching the sunrise and sunset, and spending time together. My daughter loved playing in the tidal pools (even though the water was freezing!). In our photo, we are at the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Eastern seaboard.

— Sam Borkovic, Upper School counselor

We rolled our celebrations for a new house, a completed graduate degree for my wife [Lower School Art teacher Amelia Karpowitz], and our 20-year anniversary into a trip to Baltimore. We had a great time visiting art museums and old friends, the National Aquarium and the Inner Harbor, an Orioles game and Edgar Allan Poe's grave. And the crab cakes were incredible!

— Joel Karpowitz, Upper School English Teacher

Hola, Ravens! After two and a half years of not being able to see my 77-year-old mother and also my brother, I decided that this summer was going to be about family. I flew to the Canary Island (Spain) to our family home, and my brother also visited with his Norwegian family. We did a lot of reconnecting with extended family and friends, celebrated missed milestone birthdays, walked on the beach, played games, ate good food and made lots of memories. Moreover, our house didn’t have Internet connection for the first three weeks so I was able to totally unplug. When I landed back in RDU last week, I struggled to even remember the number of my street address — that’s how much I had disconnected! I am glad to be back and ready for a new and exciting school year allowing me to make memories with my students. Nos vemos.

— Maria Doyle, Upper School Spanish Teacher

This summer I focused on my mental health and exploring new skills and interests. Throughout the summer, I attended four to five Vinyasa and Aerial yoga classes each week to gain more strength, balance and peace of mind. I had begun teaching myself French, a language I have always wanted to learn, last March, and I worked more intensely on my learning this summer through using Duolingo, French grammar books and weekly conversations with Anne Theunissen, a former Ravenscroft French teacher. I also explored Improv comedy and took two classes at Mettlesome in Durham, participating in shows with my classmates at the culmination of each class. Normally, as a Spanish teacher, I rate my summers based on how much travel I get to do, but this summer was different. Despite not travelling abroad, my family did get to go to Sunset Beach several times, and I enjoyed seeing my daughter catch her first wave on her boogie board and riding her bike for the first time. My family also visited family in Virginia and stayed with my brother and his family in Virginia Beach. During our visit, my brother David, a lieutenant in the Navy, gave us a tour of the George H.W. Bush Aircraft Carrier, on which he is the Head Training Officer. It was a special experience to see what he does and then get to go see “Top Gun: Maverick” in the theater afterwards. I realized that through laughing, learning and spending time with friends and family, this summer was definitely one of the best of my life.

— Katie Barnwell, Upper School Spanish Teacher
 
A grid of teacher photos

Clockwise from top left: Sam Borkovic; Joel Karpowitz; beach photo by Maria Doyle