A day in the life

January 24, 2023

Day in the life of a first year teacher


Yearbook File Photo

In Samuel Duff’s first year of teaching at MSHS, he teaches Social Studies, American Government and U.S. History.

Many young students believe that teachers’ lives revolve around them and school, but something only teachers themselves can understand is how the work life balance is achieved. As a newer teacher, Samuel Duff has almost nailed it already. 

Starting the day

Duff enjoys starting every morning at 5:30 A.M, when his first alarm goes off. “I actually do yoga first thing every morning,” Duff said. He chooses to start his day with mind and body stretches, which allows him to relax and increase his focus. 

After yoga, he takes a shower to refresh, then will make his morning cup of coffee.This is followed with some breakfast and then more coffee. Around 6:25 a.m., Duff starts to gather his belongings for work, brushes his teeth and get dressed.

Heading to work

“I usually leave at around 6:45 a.m. and I get here at 7:10 a.m.,” Duff said. He likes to arrive at work about an hour before students arrive so that he can get settled into the day. “I make sure that I have all my stuff sorted out for my classes that day,” Duff said. This stuff includes printing papers, preparing the whiteboard and getting all his resources on Canvas settled. 

Once all his classwork is set for the day, Duff likes to take some time to relax. “I go down to the office and check the mailbox, say ‘hi’ to Stacey, fill my water bottle and then if I have time and the weather’s nice, I will go outside and walk laps on the track,” Duff said. As it heads into the colder months of the year, Duff has substituted laps around the track to laps around the school. 

Duff is also a huge fan of soccer. He hopes to coach for the school team eventually and has been taking time before school to watch the 22nd FIFA World Cup. “I see him watching the soccer game every day,” Lawrence Housley, history teacher at Manitou Springs High School, said.

During work 

“I teach social studies, American government and U.S. history classes,” Duff said. Duff gets a change of speed throughout the day as he teaches freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors. As a newer teacher, Duff has seen to be doing well and has left a good impression on other teachers in his department. “I think Duff is a very cool, nice man,” Housley said. 


“I do have students come in, have fun and be loud. I typically do my own thing and watch soccer,” Duff said. He feels lucky to have a 3rd period plan period, so if he ever needs more time he has access to it. He typically has a light snack including some fruit, a granola bar and a large bottle of water for lunch. Then, he will have a big snack once he arrives home.

After school

Duff likes to wait 15 to 30 minutes before leaving campus to ensure no one needs help. He makes sure he has his checklist covered for the day, and that he doesn’t leave without something important. “Usually the first thing I do is work out, whether it’s going to the gym or a field,” Duff said. Physical health is very important to Duff, so he makes sure to do yoga in the morning and an exercise after work. When the weather is nice and he wants a change of pace, Duff will go to an empty field and do dribbling or juggling drills. 


“I’m big on organization and preparation, so I go grocery shopping on Sunday, and I will plan out every meal,” Duff said. Going out to eat is a rare occurrence for Duff as he loves to cook. He takes advantage of planning out all of his meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week, then will make weekly grocery trips to ensure he has all the ingredients he needs. 

“I like pasta,” Duff said. Being someone who loves to cook, he will never turn down a good pasta dish even if it means going out. Whether it is alfredo, marinara, cream base, penne or fettuccine, Duff loves a hot bowl of pasta.

Ending the day

After starting the day early and having an event filled day, Duff will often unwind for a couple minutes. Then he heads to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. “I also prioritize my sleep a lot more,” Duff said. Being energized for the next day is very important to Duff so he makes sure he gets eight hours of sleep by heading to bed at 9:45 p.m..

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Day in the life of a last year teacher


Yearbook File Photo

In Julie Gardner’s last year teaching at MSHS, she teaches career and consumer math, geometry, precalculus and a Pikes Peak college class.

Many young students believe that teachers’ lives revolve around them and school, but something only teachers themselves can understand is how the work life balance is achieved. As a teacher of 31 years, Julie Gardner has nailed it.

Starting The Day

Gardner’s wake alarm goes off at 5:05 every morning. “I enjoy starting the day with a cup of tea or coffee followed by Bible study, Gardner said.” After Bible study, Gardner does Yoga Pilates, which allows her to stretch, refocus and relax. 

After Yoga Pilates, Gardner will get prepared for the day as she gets dressed, does her hair and eats breakfast. Gardner always has a piece of toast for breakfast varied with different toppings, like honey or jelly and on occasional days she will have some kombucha.

Heading To Work

“It varies if I take a shower then I arrive at 7:45 but most days somewhere around 7:25 unless I have physical therapy then I arrive at 8:00,” Gardner said. As a teacher of 31 years, Gardner doesn’t feel the stress of arriving way earlier than students, since she has a steady routine. Then when the weather is right and it starts to approach spring, Gardner loves riding her bike to school in the mornings to get fresh air and enjoy nature.

“I always get my boards ready,” Gardner said. No matter what time Gardner arrives she will arrange and prepare her chalkboards in her room. The calendar board is the most important one as it keeps her and her students on the same schedule. Right before school begins, she lastly checks her emails, replies and sends reminders to student tutors and the knowledge bowl team. 

During The Day

“I teach career and consumer math, geometry, precalculus and a Pikes Peak college class,” Gardner said. Gardner has taught 30 out of 31 years at Manitou Springs High School, while each year getting a good change of pace as she teaches freshman, sophomore, juniors and seniors throughout the day. 

As the year comes to an end, Gardner is planning her retirement as a teacher. Though she hopes to still contribute to the school as a math support teacher and to continue teaching the college course. “She always tries to do what’s best for everyone, especially her students,” Nathan Gardner said. Nathan Gardner is Gardner’s son who is a senior at MSHS this year, he has been able to watch her grow as a teacher and view students’ opinions on how much she has helped them over the years. 


“For lunch I have leftovers from dinner, it’s typically a salad, and I put whatever protein on it,” Gardner said. On Wednesdays and Fridays Gardner holds knowledge bowl practice in her room, as she is the coach of the team. The rest of the week she typically tends to work through lunch as she will grade or plan lessons, but recently she has been spending lunch chatting with students and teachers to be more social. 

After School

Gardner will typically stay anywhere to an hour or more after school depending on her workload and if a student has to retake an exam. “I have about at least an hour grading every night,” Gardner said. As a teacher the job never truly has an end or start, Gardner spends her time before school, after school and during the weekends planning and grading lessons. 

Once she leaves school her activities range from going for a walk or hike, going to the grocery store, and doctor appointments. “I like watching TV with my husband,” Gardner said. Gardner and her husband enjoy getting into different varieties of TV series which they get to binge and critique together. 


“We remodeled our kitchen and since then my husband’s like turned in this amazing chef,” Gardner said. Unless it’s a special occasion, going out is a rare occasion since they have gotten into cooking. Gardner’s husband and her have a routine where during the week he will cook and during the weekend she will, with dinner typically including a protein, a carb, and a salad. 

Ending The Day

After starting the day early and having an event filled day, Gardner enjoys ending each day with writing in her journal. Then she will head to do her nighttime routine and prepare for bed. “Anywhere from nine to 11 p.m.,” Gardner said. Depending on how tired Gardner is she will stay up, since she doesn’t find her bed relaxing and would rather be up doing something productive. 

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