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Reflections from an “Almost-Retiree”

May 8, 2012

 My husband and I set a goal in our twenties to retire early; we put together our savings plans to help us reach that goal and promptly forgot about it for some 30-odd years.  But my teaching career took off like a herd of turtles, for Iowa was in the early stages of a decade-long recession—falling enrollments and shrinking staffs in the school systems.  Coaching and substitute teaching provided a Plan B for a few years until a friend told me about an immediate need for an adjunct instructor at the local technical college.  It was “baptism by fire.”  My department chair said, “Here are the books, this is your location, and—by the way—it’s midterm.”  Welcome to the world of the two-year college!

At the two-year college, each student came with a different story; but each one wanted to be successful in reaching personal and professional goals.  Working with these students was where I wanted to be!  They inspired me to return to graduate school; and within a few years, I was on board full time.  In the blink of an eye, years full of challenges, accomplishments, different colleges, great colleagues, and a life of learning flew by.

In the midst of our busy days, we seldom take time to reflect on the impact that we might have had on our students, and we often never know.  Yet each of us will know about a few.  For me, it is the Tanzanian student who finally passed microeconomics after attending class three days a week and coming to one-on-one tutoring with me the other two days all semester long so that she could go back and manage a hotel in Tanzania.  And the Bosnian refugees who worked 40+ hours third shift at a meat packing plant while taking a full load of day classes so that they could experience the opportunities of America.  Of course, don’t forget the students who blew off their classes because they really didn’t want to be there, but who came back a few years later. Older and wiser, they were ready for classes, paid out of pocket, and were highly motivated, earning A’s and B’s.  My biggest regret is the students who were enrolled in a class that I was teaching for the first time; the poor things hopefully learned in spite of me.  Certainly, to teach is to learn.

I am blessed to have been a part of the York Tech family where every faculty and staff member plays an integral part in the success of our students.  I’m proud to have worked with so many  dedicated, hard-working colleagues who serve both our students and each other.  I look forward to watching you continue to transform the lives of our students in the next few years as I enjoy our long-ago goal of early retirement!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tracy Hudson permalink
    May 8, 2012 5:49 pm

    We have certainly learned from you, Lori, and you will be missed. Best of luck to you!

  2. randy "grandpa" simplican permalink
    May 9, 2012 1:21 pm

    sometimes, good things happen to good people.

    26 years and i’ll be right behind you.

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