Summer can feel so strange as an IEC.

It’s quiet…and yet not. It’s busy. I’m all over the place. No one is in school—that’s part of it. Students and families are all busy with summer camp and vacation. I’m meeting with students at hours that feel so odd. Morning? A lunchtime meeting? I get to choose, and actively manage my schedule around LA traffic?

It seems so convenient, and yet it’s chaotic, as I’m used to doing all of my office/maintenance/developmental work during the day and meeting with students after hours. Plus I have trips, visits, little vacations of my own, but almost always with some work element incorporated (e.g., I was in Chicago visiting my parents this past weekend, but wouldn’t have dreamed of missing out on dropping in on DePaul’s new theater building).

There’s no rhythm, in other words, which is essential to being an effective business owner/operator and service provider. It’s so much easier when the school week creates a structure to which you must mold your own activities. I’m better at thinking and being in a creative space in the morning. I’m spending more time in the car these days because students’ schedules don’t align in the same way as during the school year. Deadlines seem so far off, or are altogether non-existent. Picking up the pieces, integrating all the information from my notes from the June conferences (WACAC and HECA) takes an unusual amount of effort because deadlines aren’t clear. I don’t necessarily know what opportunities I have to help out at school sites, for example at back-to-school nights, because the dates haven’t been set, or even if they have, no one is available to pass that information along.

Students, similarly, are in a bit of a daze. Many can’t (or actively refuse to) connect to the work that they have ahead, and all the buildup and stress that comes with it in the fall. How could they? It’s not something they’ve ever really experienced, except perhaps by proxy through siblings or friends who are upperclassmen.

But the swell is already building—the wave is on its way. July is flying right by, and soon the frenzy will be upon us once again. That’s a completely different kind of chaos, obviously, but one in which all the looming deadlines and school assignments and planning around the holidays all suddenly snap the whole picture into focus. Then, all at once, we’re on the same page and overwhelmed and have no time to think about anything that we’re doing—just getting down to it, fighting our way through as best as we can. For now, it’s just the anticipation.

By Nick Soper