When I look back on my life I can see that I have been very lucky. Why? Well, for one thing I was able to work toward our retirement years in a way that only a teacher can. And I’ve been lucky in other ways too.
Take my Air Force years. I loved my years in uniform, and could happily have stayed in uniform until I reached middle age, retiring in my 50s with 75 percent of my Air Force pay. However, I realized that if I waited that long to retire it would make it hard to get a civilian job and build another retirement, so I retired with 21 years at half pay.
I then went to college and took a composite science degree that covered chemistry, physics, biology, geology, and psychology instead of taking a degree in just one of them. Why? Well, I’d been instructing teaching methods courses in the Air Force, so it was only logical that I should teach in civilian life, but you can’t teach what you don’t know, can you?
Teaching wasn’t the easiest decision I ever made. Some mining company in northeast Texas wanted to pay me $47,000 a year to start at a time (1975) when the best starting teacher’s salary was around $9,700.
Luckily, a school district in Texas not only got kindhearted and gave me credit for all 21 of my Air Force years, moving me way up the salary scale, but it also hired Lolly as a school secretary.
We had always talked about retiring in Arizona, so eight years later in 1983, when Lolly’s sister and her husband moved to Phoenix from England, Lolly and I and the kids moved here even though it would put me back on the bottom of the salary scale. I applied to Mesa and began all over again at age 51, but we were here at last.
On the other hand, I only had 14 years left to retirement age, which told me I had better do something to supplement my income for Social Security purposes. I did that by doing even more teaching.
Teaching what? When? Where?
The “when” was easy: All the time.
In other words, daytime, evenings, weekends, and summers.
The “where” was Chapman University, the University of Phoenix, Mesa Community, and the school district itself.
Teaching what? Methods courses, science courses, and computer courses of all kinds, including word processing, spreadsheets, databases, paint and draw programs, and the like; plus things like methods of teaching science, history, or English with a computer, or using a computer in the classroom. I even taught school law.
My! My! Was I a teaching fool in those days! I spent doggone near as much time teaching evening courses as I did teaching daytime ones. And I put tons of hours into weekend and summer courses. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I was working for our retirement years.
You can’t imagine some of the unlikely things I did. I even did the course catalog for Chapman University on my little Macintosh, and did the artwork and general poster work for Mesa Little Theater. And so we were at last able to retire, buy a little place up here, and work together to turn it into Lolly’s dream retirement home.
PS: I was also lucky enough to have attended a high school that taught me what I needed to know to work on our little retirement home.
And so here we are.