Monday, February 1, 2010

My Year

The following post was inspired by a topic posted at Topical Tuesday.  The task is to create a post about "My Year, 2009."    This is the first time I have participated in a meme. Here is the link to the Topical Tuesday home page:

I have now been retired for one year and it has been the least productive of my life. After 30 plus years in education, I abruptly retired at the end of December, 2008. Where I had once been a valued, experienced administrator, a change in superintendent and two new assistant superintendents restructured our district level leadership. The assistant superintendent for student services, my new boss, was less than half my age…I had just turned 58. Overnight I became the village idiot. The knowledge I had gained after working 15 years in the district was useless because we had apparently been doing it all wrong for years.

I know all the research about change. I know it’s hard. I know we go through stages as we respond to change, but I’m really one of those people who likes change. I like to move forward and work toward meeting high expectations for all kids. But I had been cast in the role of the old-timer who stands in the way of real progress.

My opinions held no weight in decision making. My department and my staff suffered because I was no longer an effective advocate for our programs. One morning in early December following an administrative meeting I had a short meeting with the superintendent. It is enough to say that I had never been talked to by a supervisor like I was in that meeting. The superintendent’s voice was laden with contempt. His body language and gestures showed disgust. That afternoon I made an appointment to discuss my eligibility for retirement with the state retirement system.

I was eligible for full early retirement. The district was contractually required to pay for my medical insurance for seven years. I would receive a pension check only slightly smaller than my paycheck. I didn’t have the fight in me to stay where I was neither wanted nor effective. I retired.

I had no plans for retirement and I have spent the past year floundering. A friend who retired in similar circumstances had told me that leaving the district was like leaving an abusive relationship. She didn’t realize how bad it was until several months had passed and she had gained some distance. One day she woke up and realized that she was no longer stressed and unhappy.

My life had always been filled up with work and when I wasn’t at work, I brought my work home with me. My hobby was writing grants in my spare time to fund projects at work. Everything came to a screeching halt. I had no idea what to do next.

When people retire they take trips…so I went to Hawaii in January when everyone else went back to school and I watched whales.

I made numerous extended visits to Texas to see my grandchildren. I spent most of the summer in the pool and watched my granddaughter learn to swim.

I took a cruise to Alaska

I stayed up late and slept without an alarm clock. I got up when I wanted to get up. I got a new wardrobe of casual wear. I renewed my library card. I bought a laptop and set up an office. I started to write again and braved a blog. I rode my bike around the neighborhood. I began to heal and one day I realized that there was absolutely nothing that I had to do.

I’m still finding my way in retirement. I substitute occasionally and remember how much fun it is to teach. But then I eat lunch in the teacher’s room and the discussion about budget cuts or new regulations reminds me how fortunate I am to have no dependence on, or responsibility to, the school district.

I have gained the freedom to do whatever I want…my only challenge is figuring out what I want to do. That’s a work in progress.


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I thought I'd repay the favor.

    I hope you find your niche...something that makes you happy. It sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

    Good Luck! Have Fun! Enjoy!

  2. My goodness. Workplace madness. Congratulations on having the courage to get out.

  3. Jann:

    I read some of your comments, made me feel so sad. Same old same old.

    I had a really tough time after I left the ESD myself. The SC took over the Newcomer Center that you had created single handedly, they cut the program down to a 3/4 time job when the seed money grant expired. That was down from what they paid the ESD, which I understand was less than 1 FTE. As you know, the schools got 1.5 FTE for those students.

    Never mind. I lost my career, my church affiliation (another story), my best friend/guitar buddy, my wife, my father, my grandmother, all in about five year period. I was like a zombie for a long while. Writing kind of helped me get through the depression. That was one of the things that helped keep me alive.

    If you get a chance, I would appreciate it if you would take a look at my book at this url:

    Also, it would help me to go up in the rating system if any of my friends would register and click on the link to "back" my book.

    The book is not about education. I try sometimes to write about that system but it is mostly too painful yet. So for the most part I leave that battle to others. But sometimes I get so mad I have to write about that too. As you know, the best writing does not take place when one is angry. I need a distance to do that, a distance that I don't know if I can achieve yet.

    Wish you the best.


  4. Well, you know how the education system works: They spend ten years telling you how to teach, then when you finally learn to do what they told you ... they dump you.

    I feel sorry for all those young teachers who are going for the bait, just like we did. I feel sorry for them in spite of their arrogance (I was arrogant too!), because I know what is probably awaiting them in a few years.

    When I turned old enough for Medicare, they dropped my Blue Cross Blue Shield because, glory be, I was now going to be eligible for Medicare. Little did I realize that when I remarried, my family insurance and deductible amounts bill would zoom up to $1,500 per month.

    Well, I am crying on your shoulder, when you probably need another shoulder to cry on.

    I seem to have lost contact with all my old friends at the ESD. I guess I wasn't good at staying in touch with them, and now sometimes I wish I could see them again.

    OK, best wishes.


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