By John BernhardtThere’s a demographic shift underway across our land. As the baby boomers begin to retire, a sizeable chunk of the American population is tipping toward the “golden years.” That shift poses unique challenges to America and her institutions.
On the home front, Andes Central School looks toward the growing retiree pool as a valuable natural resource. When possible, ACS seeks the service of retirees to fill part-time or interim positions at our school. The upcoming 2008-2009 school year will find five retirees on the team at Andes adding knowledge, wisdom, and over a century of public education service to the ACS staff.
It’s a win-win for all when schools can fill staff positions using “retirees.” The District can staff “hard-to-fill” positions with experienced personnel and realize cost savings. Retirees working in public schools collect a state pension and also earn wages from the school where they work. The wages earned are modest, capped as part of retirement regulations. The District gains experienced staff at a fraction of the costs they normally pay.
Of course, in most cases, the use of retirees to fill school positions is limited. More often than not, retirees accept assignments as part of their transition from full-time work to the world of retirement. In time, the daily demands of regular work give way to the desire for added flexibility in a retiree’s schedule.
That is not the case in every circumstance. After finishing a long career teaching elementary classes at Andes, Dwight Dolezel returned to our school as a technology specialist. As a classroom teacher, Dwight was instrumental in moving Andes into the technological era. For the past six years as a retiree, Dwight has continued to lead our school’s technology efforts. Under Dwight’s direction, Andes has surged forward with teachers and students learning to use technology to enhance instruction.
Four years ago, our music department faced a crisis. During the late spring, we learned we would be losing both of our music teachers. With certified and qualified teachers in short supply, our District faced a dire predicament. That’s when an angel appeared in the form of Sandi Reynolds.
A retired vocal music teacher from Downsville Central School, Sandi agreed to join the Andes team for six weeks, giving us time to hire a permanent teacher. Four years later, Sandi is still on board, enjoying her work with Andes students immensely, and has signed on to provide her ‘musical magic’ at Andes for one more year.
Sandi was having so much fun at Andes, when a guidance vacancy appeared, she twisted the arm of her husband, Glenn, and convinced him to inquire. A retired admissions counselor from SUNY Delhi, Glenn was a certified school counselor and decided to give Andes a try. This June, Glenn will complete his second year of service at ACS and is scheduled to return for a third run next September.
At a recent meeting, the ACS Board approved retirement plans of our school nurse, Barb Brown. Anxious to utilize Barb’s many years of experience, The Board agreed to bring Barb back for one year as a retiree serving in the same capacity next fall.
As the clock continues to click, I, too, have come to appreciate that everyone’s work days must come to a close. I have expressed to the Board of Education my intention to retire as the Andes Superintendent at the end of the current school year in June. At the same time, the Board will allow me to join a growing group of talented and committed retirees who continue to offer their services to ACS. I am honored and pleased to continue my work at Andes as an interim Superintendent in that capacity next year.
As America’s population continues to gray, our country will benefit by finding creative ways to use the gifts of our elderly. At Andes Central School, we appreciate the contributions retired teachers bring to our mission and are pleased these talented folks have chosen to extend their careers in our school. ~