One Step At A Time: For Some Teachers, Retirement Is A Gradual Process
Retirement, it’s the light at the end of the tunnel, the reason you roll out of bed in the mornings, the first time in your life when you can throw away your alarm clock and do what you want. Adults dream of the day when they can hand in their resignation letter and head for the nearest beach, without looking back.
Everyone except those Staples teachers who just couldn’t let their longtime passions go.
Math teacher Allen Jolley can relate to this feeling. Last May, after 45 and a half years of teaching various math courses at Staples, Jolley made the shocking announcement that he planned to retire.
“It was just getting to be too much,” Jolley said. “There were a lot of long days, and I was not getting home until late.” Jolley, who had taught everything from A.P. Calculus to Algebra 2C, left Staples last June with no intention of returning. However, as fate would have it, there were a few open classes that needed a teacher, and so Jolley returned to Staples to continue teaching part-time, because it seemed the job included all the good parts of teaching and none of the bad.
Jolley isn’t the only Staples teacher who has opted to work part-time in order to reduce the stressful and demanding days teachers face. Chemistry teacher Andrew Strauss has enjoyed the benefits for the past decade at Staples.
“I still really enjoy teaching,” Strauss said. He has also found that by teaching part-time, he is able to enjoy his profession more. “I don’t have to get up quite as early and I can lower the stress of my workload.”
In 1999, after retiring from New York State as a teacher and also as the coach of the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams, Strauss spent the first few years of his retirement dedicated to philately, or collecting stamps. This is, until 2002, when then-head of the science department Dr. Rosvally contacted Strauss asking him to come and assist in the chemistry labs.
Ten years later, Strauss’s schedule varies from semester to semester, ranging anywhere from four to one class. Still Strauss recalls a more hectic time in his life when he balanced coaching and teaching. “I would have to get up at 6 a.m.and wouldn’t get home until 11 p.m.”
Gym teacher Bruce Betts knows a thing or two about getting home late after a game. Last year after 25 years of coaching volleyball at Staples, Betts finally called it quits.
“It was just the right time for me. People will tell you, that you will know when to retire from something, and I just knew this was it,” Betts said.
Even though he decided that it was time to give up coaching, Betts made the decision to stay on as a gym teacher at Staples. “I still love my job. I love my classes and the people I work with. I can’t wait to get here each morning.”
Like Betts, Jolley arrives early, still showing up at 6:50 a.m.as he has for the four decades he has taught. The only difference is that instead of having 12 hour days, Jolley is now able to get home by 2:30 p.m., having completed all of his lesson plans and correcting in his spare time after his period two and three classes. This leaves him with stress-free nights that he can spend with his wife, which according to Jolley was a motivating factor in his decision to retire.
Each teacher confirmed how important their students were in their decisions. “I don’t like to say nice thing about my students, but they are wonderful,” Strauss said.
The students can certainly feel the retired teachers’ value. “He was a great teacher,” said Ashley Hyun ’13, one of Jolley’s pre-calculus students. “I’m so glad that I got the chance to have him this year.”
Even though Strauss won’t be returning to Staples next year, Jolley has decided to stay on for at least another year pending an opening in the department. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” Jolley said. “I just love teaching, it doesn’t matter if it’s A.P. kids or students who don’t really like math.”