Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tributes of a Sort

I've been going through 20 years of Christmas cards.  I don't know why I saved them all--sheer laziness maybe.  I've thrown away most in the recyclable bin.  I've made new cards of some.   I've saved almost all photos and letters to peruse later.

 It has been a nostalgic activity.  Many of the families of students I tutored over the years sent cards with notes saying things like "I'm doing really well in middle school" or "We didn't get a new tutor since we moved.  Phillip has read The Boxcar Children and asked for three others in the series for Christmas."  But one card, probably from an adult student in the last few years, wrote, "Miss Mary, you learned me alot."  Maybe I did--but not enough!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Day After

It's December 20 and my day is totally open.  I woke up far earlier than I needed to but am still in my pajamas.  It's a good time to muse about the past and the future.

Yesterday I called  Human Resources to see why I had heard nothing about my resignation letter.  It was not found even though I sent an email and a hard copy.  Fortunately, my supervisor had the original email and she re-sent it.  That still didn't do the trick.  I needed to say "retire" not "resign."  Now I know that.  However, I plan to retire just once so will not be able to learn from this experience!

Today's SB Tribune had a flyer in it that read "Celebrate Life to It's Fullest."  My immediate thought was to use it with my students as a great example of a very public but common error.  But I have no students anymore!  What a waste!

This week I looked at Jim's agenda for church council.  The "vision" for our church is to be more involved right in our neighborhood.  It occurred to me that we could have a GED (TASC) class for our neighbors in Hickory Village, a large apartment complex across the street.  This would give me an opportunity to teach a class but without the need to ask for time off from a school corporation.  If we had child care, we could eliminate the two main barriers for attendance--transportation and child care.  I won't present it to anyone just yet, but the idea has possibilities.  It also has problems--sharing space is always difficult.  I don't know how this kind of pop-up class is thought of by the school corporation but there are other "community partners" that do such classes.

I am amazingly at peace with this very big change in my life.  I am thankful for the years I have had to be of service to others and to earn a good living.  I am eager for the opportunities that may present themselves.  I pray for God to lead me in the right paths!

December 19, 2013

December 19, 2013 was my last official day of student contact with the South Bend Community School Corporation.  It was a good day--a breakfast I prepared, a Christmas calculator activity, the reading of Luke 2 and Matthew 2 and the presentation of certificates.  We had seven students present.  My husband came and enjoyed seeing this part of my life.  My replacement came at the end and stayed with me afterwards chatting.

The certificates--I never do something like this with total ease, but with some help from others, I was able to print up several.  The recognition was for perfect attendance for one student, for academic gains in reading, math, and language for five others and for the last two newer students, participation in class.  D forgot his certificates when he left and called to make sure I was there so he could come back and get them.  I was touched at how important they were to him.

The reading of the Christmas stories--no one knew how to find Luke 2 in the Bibles I handed out.  M protested that she went to church every week however!  D commented that she didn't know there were Christmas stories in the Bible!  She is one of our better students.  When she read aloud, she stumbled over words like "Herod" and "Messiah", obviously not a part of her cultural vocabulary.  I know we are a public school setting--even if located in a building owned by a church.  But this has become a part of my Christmas tradition.

I did not grieve at the end of the session.  I cleaned up the party mess and brought some work home.  I'll go in again to work on purging files and taking some more things home.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Monday without a Schedule

This is the first Monday since October that I had nothing to do for work.  I had made plans and checked files last Friday.  I was not introducing new students, doing make-up sessions,  or meeting other staff members.  There were three calls from the office about one student who had never returned my call and as a result had a parent who was very upset that his son was not in class yet.  So there were  reminders of adult education and its challenges!

I woke up knowing the day was wide open and wondered what it would bring.  Now it's almost five pm and time to fix supper and greet my husband.

It was a good day.  I organized my organ music (no pun intended!), I found more old bank statements to be shredded, I wrote a note to an old friend, I walked with Maggie and used the exercise bike,   I left a package at UPS to be packed and sent to Raven, I read, I napped, I put out a few Christmas decorations, and I played lots of organ music at the piano.

I will need more structure for my days, but for today it was just fine.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One Hour of Recycling

I just spent one hour in the basement sorting through files and binders full of materials from meetings, conferences, mailings and research.  The recyclable bin is full of papers on Bridges to Poverty, Brain Research, Child Care, Starting Over, Conflict Resolution, and Behavior Management, There was more on Curriculum Guides, Family Literacy, Parenting, Life Skills, and I can't remember what else.  I haven't looked at some of it for years.  It was easy to part with much of it.

However, there is still a lot more on those shelves and in those drawers.  I will have to take time to go through staff reports, grant proposals, records, newsletters--all of which are historical records.  But who will be interested in them?   Some memories are not so good.  I found a letter of reprimand from a Housing Authority administrator who thought I was undermining her authority at some point.  I was not sad when she was terminated for unprofessional conduct later!

And then there are all the student files I still have in boxes--from the Hope Rescue Mission, the St. Joseph Library, Family Literacy, and now MC3 classes.  I can no longer puts faces with many of the names, but some I will never forget!

Maybe as time passes, I will be able to part with more.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Another Goal for Retirement?

Jim said he had read about seven mistakes people make during their first year of retirement.  Most of them involved poor financial planning which is not really relevant for me seeing that my spouse will not make plans to retire!  Others involved setting goals beyond the first six months--the honeymoon phase.

A colleague asked me today if I had set goals and I certainly have.  But another one presented itself today. The phone rang--an unusual occurrence these days.  It was Joe Bock, the man planning to run against Jackie Walorski for our representative in Congress.  He wanted to introduce himself to me and to tell me why he was qualified to do this.  I already knew a bit about him and had the time and interest to tell him how pleased I was that he was willing to take this on.  Of course, the conversation ended with a request for funds, but this is a candidacy I am happy to support financially.   In fact, I told him that in my retirement I would have more time and would be happy to help in some way.


It was back to work today after two and a half weeks away.  A colleague asked me if I had regrets or was eager for the end.  I have no regrets, particularly after today's events--minor ones but ones that confirmed my decision.

I texted all the students to remind them that we were back in class tomorrow.  I had maybe five responses out of twelve texts sent out.  We'll see who shows up.

  One response was a bit hostile.  Had I called Work One to get her a voucher to take the GED test?  No, I hadn't.  I had let her know the sub could take care of that.  The sub had not done so because she had not written an essay and come back to class to hand one in.  I told her it was too late to register at this point anyway.  She seemed angry about that--even though I know she knew there were deadlines.  I am tired of this kind of attitude where it is all someone else's fault.

The new TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) is not at all ready for use on January 1.  There are no predictor tests available.  There probably will be a hiatus in testing.  It is difficult to prepare students when you don't know what is required.  But...this is not my problem!

I was very disappointed to see how few of my students signed up to register for the GED by the deadline.  Several of them could have given it a try at least.  That too will be someone else's challenge for the new year.  Another reason for being happy about my decision is that I  learned today who will be teaching at MC3 in January.  The teachers are new to the program but they are experienced and enthusiastic and will do a great job!

I spent a fair amount of time getting ready for class tomorrow--texting students, recording attendance, making plans, creating a review math quiz, and looking at individual folders for setting goals.  That is work I actually enjoy--making up the plans and seeing how they work out.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Traveling with a Tour Group

I study with great interest all the brochures that come our way--from Duke, Harvard, National Geographic, Viking Travel and now Roads Scholars as well.  In fact, so many came that I asked Harvard to stop sending paper copies.

Jim does not care to travel and traveling alone has its dangers and drawbacks.  I feel encouraged by my travels in the last two weeks, much of it on my own.  I made mistakes but they were easily corrected.  I did what I wanted to do and I relaxed when that seemed good.

I watched tour groups in a couple of settings and was grateful not to be a part of them.  The breakfast area in the Holiday Inn Express was packed with travelers as was the lobby.  The elevator was literally full up to the ceiling with luggage.  People were waiting for the single bathroom in the hall before they boarded the bus.  I was glad to be on my own time schedule.

Later at the NY Historical Society Museum Shop I was asked if I was with the tour group.  The woman ahead of me was in a mad hurry to choose and pay lest she keep her bus waiting.  Earlier another group came into the room where I was quietly contemplating the art and listening to my audioguide.  The chatter was so loud that I decided it was time to go.  Again I was glad to be on my own before the invasion.

Yet, maybe I will give it a try.  Susan's parents liked their Road Scholar experiences--at a craft camp and in the Everglades.  I would like to try one of a limited time frame, staying in a single room in one or two hotels without frequent changes, and within a time zone or two.  Maybe Costa Rica!  That looked interesting--one week, two hotels, no single supplement, same time zone, and not terribly expensive.  Could be fun!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Goals for 2014

Laura wrote of checking on goals for 2013 and setting new ones for 2014 on her blog November 19.  I haven't been doing new year's resolutions for a while--and don't really write down goals although I may have some especially for work.  But this year I am thinking about how I am going to keep busy, be productive, and help others.

So here is a start on my list:

1.  Keep a blog about adjusting to this next chapter of my life called "retirement" and share it with others.

2.  Take docent training at the Snite and SBMuseum of Art.

3.  Travel with Jim and extend those trips like I am doing right now.

4.  Relearn geometry with

5.  Learn lots of new organ music--maybe even some challenging stuff.

6.  Watch videos online.

7.  Read longer books--instead of quick reads.

8.  Find a way to help out in adult education--maybe not in the spring but in the fall of 2014.

9.  Spend more time with children and grandchildren--as I am doing this week.

10.  (added November 25)  Learn Greek so I can read the New Testament with greater interest!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Letting Go!

This morning's USAToday says that it is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.  I
immediately thought about using that in a lesson for the students.   A few weeks ago I learned that most of them did not know when the Civil War took place and that Abraham Lincoln was president during it.

I couldn't resist.  I texted Tracy, my sub, and suggested using this anniversary as a subject of cell phone searches.

This is what I will miss as much as anything--the planning and the carrying out of those plans.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thoughts from 2 Northside Piers

I am at Dan's apartment overlooking the East River and the skyscrapers in Manhattan.

We left home on Thursday and I have been on the road for four nights with eleven to go!  Next spring when I travel it will not take as much planning.  I worked hard to get things ready for a sub and to make sure that each student knew what he or she should be working on this week in my absence.  I hope it all plays out according to plan.

I am having a wonderful time.  It was great to be with family in Princeton for a couple of days.  It was great to be here with Dan who was a wonderful host even if he did have more energy and physical stamina than his 67 year old mother.

One needs to do this kind of thing while one still has the ability to do so.  We were on six subway lines total yesterday en route to the Met Museum of Art and back.  No one gave up a seat for a white-haired lady.  In fact, I may have been the oldest person I saw on the subways.  Dan says the older folk take buses and cabs.  Today I plan to get to Manhattan by the East River Ferry and then a crosstown bus.

But for now, I am saving up energy and going with a change of plans for the day that will take less time and effort.  I don't want to get to the Cloisters badly enough to spend 30 minutes at least each way underground to get there.

I am very contented to sit here and read and look out over the river and just be grateful for the ability to enjoy it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Suggestions from "Friends"

I'm retiring on December 31 and am enjoying the suggestions made just in the last few days for what I could do with my life. Any others?

Jim--take up golf (sorry, Jim)
David Banga--the musical saw (inspired by the last Subkirke band!)
Dan Vanderkam--calculus (geometry on first?)
Ruth Engbers--a visit to Milwaukee (that would be fun!)