I have actually thought about this day many times during my career. When I first started teaching outside of Seattle at the age of 21, there was an older teacher at my school who obviously had been teaching for a long time. Katherine Kreft taught 4th grade. She was stern but loving and always seemed to me like someone’s grandma in the classroom. It’s funny because I’m probably close to the age she was then, but I don’t feel that old at all! Reality check!! Anyway, a couple of years later she retired. At her retirement party, someone mentioned in a tribute to her that she had been teaching for 40 years. I remember thinking… 40 years! How could someone ever do that?! Well… here I am — 40 years later. I did that! It’s kind of amazing.
And now it’s over and it’s time to move on. I am SO ready. I enjoyed every last day with my students, but I will not miss all the bureaucracy and politics that now accompany teaching. It was such a fun job when I first began and continued that way for many years but not any more. I doubt very much it will be possible for many of the younger teaching crowd to stick with it for decades like I did. It wears you down, tires you out, and generally sucks all the life out of you. The personal rewards of working with students, teaching children, and nurturing a love for learning are great, but the expectations put upon the teacher are ridiculous. In addition, the financial rewards and benefits are shrinking and no one can survive that too long this day in age. Thankfully, I feel like I lived and worked the best of this career.
I experienced a wonderful send-off that started with students and parents and ended with friends, family, and colleagues punctuated by thank you notes, incredibly generous gifts, a bevy of ongoing toasts, and a Mexican fiesta complete with Mariachi Trio. My husband produced a fabulous video of my life that I will cherish forever. We had drinks with our son at the Top of the Mark located on the 19th floor of the historic Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco and enjoyed a room with a view for the weekend in the City. It seemed the celebration lasted for weeks. After so many years, one day was just not enough time to acknowledge the end of an era.
Some people are worried about what they will do with all their time when they retire. I have never had that concern. At a young age, my mom made sure I developed many interests and hobbies. Needless to say, with a busy life of raising children and teaching full-time non-stop, I haven’t had much time to pursue them seriously as an adult. So, it’s back to all the things I love — reading, sewing, crafting, knitting, needlepoint, embroidery, and, best of all, photography with my husband, my teacher and mentor. I will be busy! When I need a break from the hobbies, I will just organize something — there’s always something that needs organizing and I guess, for me, that’s a bit of a hobby too. I do love to organize!!
But first… speaking of organizing, it’s time to get organized for the next big move. Time to make lists, plan, sort, and pack. Not to worry. As a “construction brat”, I have had a ton of moving experience. If I counted correctly, I have moved at least 19 times throughout California and 7 other states*. Believe me, I know how to pack a box. Better get started!
*Moves in chronological order beginning with the place I was born — the first 13 before I went off to college… Oroville, CA – Murray, UT – Salina, KS – Fredericktown, MO – Madras, OR – Pollock Pines, CA – Grass Valley, CA – Livermore, CA – Albany, OR – Page, AZ – Newhall, CA – La Habra, CA – Annandale, VA – Riverside, CA – Seattle, WA – Kirkland, WA – Palm Desert, CA – Cathedral City, CA – San Jose, CA
P.S. As of today, I have been officially retired for two weeks. Life is good!!