Feeling lucky on the eve of retirement
“Are you sad?” people ask about my upcoming retirement. Not really. “Are you happy?” Yes, but happy is a pretty normal state for me. “Excited?” Sure, but there is something much deeper and more profound. Disbelief is part of it. Me? Old enough to retire? Then I remind myself of two things: I’ve been working for the Carson City School District since 1977 and I’m exactly the same age as my dad was when he retired.
But disbelief isn’t all I feel. I feel lucky. And more importantly, grateful.
I’m lucky to have been able to make a living doing something I love. I have never once regretted becoming a teacher. Never once. I still love my job. And I’m lucky I can stop now, while that is still true. I can stop before frustration, intrusive regulations and endless testing in the name of accountability remove the last bit of joy and passion from public schools. Don’t get me started.
I was lucky to have had great parents who loved my brother and me unconditionally. They showed us how to be happy in the world. They showed us what a lifetime of love looks like. They showed us how to make the most of what we are given.
I was lucky to have met Don when I took a required Earth Science class at California State University, Fullerton. Don has been my sweetheart, husband and friend for 35 years. We are lucky that our two daughters – both products of Carson City Schools – are college graduates and fully employed. With benefits. However, we are most grateful that they are also happy, healthy and independent adults. Thank you, Joanna and Katie.
I am lucky that when we moved here in 1977, our next-door neighbors were Lee and Kathy Nutting. Lee taught at Bordewich for years and recommended me to Dorothy Todd, who hired me as a teaching assistant at Bray School that fall. That first job led to many others over the next 10 years. I am grateful to all the teachers I worked for and with during those years. You know who you are.
It was during that time that I decided to complete the coursework necessary for my Nevada teaching certificate. I was lucky to have Dr. Shane Templeton as my first professor in the College of Education at UNR. I am grateful to both doctors Templeton and Bear for setting me on the right path to literacy instruction.
In 1987, I was lucky that Elma Blaud hired me to teach first grade at Seeliger Elementary School. Over the next 20 years, Seeliger exemplified excellence and commitment in spite of a somewhat independent reputation. It was a perfect fit for me. Each subsequent principal – Janet Bohart, Mike Watty, Laurel Terry and Lee Conley – brought something special. I am grateful that they respected the intelligence and professionalism of the staff while putting their own personal stamp on the tradition that is Seeliger.
I have been lucky to work with colleagues – both certified and classified – whose daily priority has been the education and healthy development of Carson City’s children. Teachers, teaching assistants, secretaries, nurses, cafeteria workers, crossing guards, custodians and volunteers. I haven’t said thank you often enough.
For the last three years, I have been very lucky to have a kind-hearted, competent and efficient assistant, Kellie Chiazza. Carson City kindergartners are lucky that the district believes enough in the importance of kindergarten to give each class an assistant for at least part of the day. I can’t imagine doing my job without Kellie to pick up the pieces, pass out the Band-Aids, clean the paintbrushes, handle the paperwork, tie the shoes, zip the zippers, answer the phone and dry the tears. Thank you, Mrs. Chiazza.
So yes, I am very grateful.
• To the hundreds of parents who knew that they were their child’s first teachers and that learning did not begin and end at the classroom door.
• For this space, in which I am able to vent, inform, enlighten and perhaps, amuse.
• That our house is pretty much paid for and the girls are on their own. Because of that, our retirement income, though not grand, will be enough.
• For an array of beauty services that help hold the outward signs of aging at bay. Thanks Brandy, Mary and Cathy.
• To Wet Sweat and Yoga at the Community Center. Thanks Pam, Sandy & Theresa. Maybe now I’ll have time to get all of the exercise that Dr. Koch recommends.
• For no more committee meetings.
Nevertheless, I am most grateful for time to pursue new interests and renew old ones. For the first time in my life, I will be free to make a life without having to worry about making a living. That’s what I call lucky.
• Fresh Ideas: Personal perspectives on timely and timeless issues. Lorie Schaefer teaches kindergarten at Seeliger School – for four more days.