Beyond the classroom: how teachers spend their free time

English teachers share what they do in their free time and why they enjoy these activities.

Virginia Breighner
English teachers enjoy a variety of activities in their spare time.

Contrary to popular belief, Rock Ridge English teachers Paul Koch, Jessica Berg, and Colleen Bianucci do more than just teach. While a good amount of their time is spent grading papers, they also do a variety of fun activities and hang out with their loved ones.


“Most of my free time I probably spend just hanging out with my family,” Koch said. “We like to watch TV together, we like to go for walks—my wife and I go for five or six-mile walks every weekend—and then we like to cook together.”


Cooking is an important activity in Koch’s family—on weekends, the whole family works together to cook a large meal. Through cooking together, they bond and are reminded of how important they are to each other. While weekend cooking is a major family event in his house, Koch just likes to cook in general; in particular, he enjoys cooking Italian food and enchiladas. “I went to cooking school in Italy, so I oftentimes will try to make a big Italian dinner,” Koch said. “The first thing I ever learned to cook for large groups was enchiladas; my grandmother is from New Mexico, so she basically taught us how to make Southwestern-style enchiladas.”


While Koch likes to cook, Berg enjoys reading whenever she has a free moment. She sees reading as a way to learn more about anything, and her eagerness to learn knows no bounds. “I just want to quite literally know everything, so I gotta read a lot of books,” Berg said. 


To Berg, reading isn’t just sitting in a chair with a couple thousand words in one’s hands—reading is an entire experience, and it has much to teach. A book can change a person forever, and it is much more than just words on paper. “You’re never the same person, so you connect to different things,” Berg said. “[Books] are surprising—they challenge your perspective on the world, make you feel less alone…You get to adventure and live a thousand lives just sitting in your living room or in your bed at night.” Books are life-changing, and while reading is a fun hobby for Berg, it’s also a way for her to continue to grow as a person and experience new things.


While Berg reads, Bianucci likes to work out. She does cardio, circuit training, and HITT workouts, as well as weightlifting and running. “It’s my biggest stress release,” Bianucci said, “and it’s one of the few opportunities where I get alone time, so I’m able to kind of just focus on myself.” While working out gives her some time to herself, she isn’t just doing it for her—it’s for her children and setting a good example for them as well. She works out to be a good role model for her kids as far as health is concerned. “I think being a mom puts things in perspective about a healthy lifestyle and modeling that healthy lifestyle for my kids,” she said. 


Whether it’s cooking, reading, or working out, the teachers of the English department enjoy their various hobbies, showing that there’s a lot more to their lives than teaching a class.