A New Chapter

I could not wait to turn sixteen. Sixteen was the magic number for getting a driver’s license and a real job. I was so ready to leave my babysitting days behind! The pay wasn’t great, the working conditions were sketchy, and I did not like the hours.

Fifty years ago, a new mall was built and it was the perfect place to find a job. My friend had a job at Orange Julius, so as soon as I was sixteen, I put in my application. I spent several years blending up Orange Julius drinks.

I was getting tired of the food industry so I scoured the job ads in the paper and found one that had me curious. I had to go to a motel for the interview, I thought nothing of that because I had just graduated from high school. My parents were out of town for the weekend, and when they returned they learned I had a new job. I was going to work at a kiosk outside of J. C. Penney in the mall making keys and engraving on metal. The kiosk was called Can-Do (it changed to Things Remembered after I left). I spent a couple of weeks going to the motel room with another girl, which was set up with the engraving machine. I worked there for a couple of years as I attended college, but then I thought I needed to do something closer to my field of study.

The Little Red Schoolhouse preschool gave me the opportunity to read books and do crafts with preschool kids. In the summer I worked with the school-aged kids and we had a lot of fun on multiple field trips.

I graduated a semester early because I had taken classes in the summer. Luckily for me a school district near me had a teacher going on maternity leave in February. I said good-bye to preschoolers and began corralling a wild class of fifth graders. It was a brutal semester, but I survived (and they did too). I spent another year in that school before I changed districts.

I spent the next twenty years teaching fourth grade, third grade, then Title I Reading to all the elementary grades. The last eleven years were in my third and final district. I taught Reading Recovery and small groups until I decided to retire. However, that retirement only lasted a month (because the state required it). I began working part-time for Missouri Reading Initiative as a trainer to bring professional development on balanced literacy into schools. It was a fun job. I could create my calendar of days in schools and schedule trips in-between. I wasn’t ready to leave the educational world, yet.

Then COVID-19 hit. Schools were not the safest place anymore. I didn’t want to be the one who brought the virus into our home. I took a leave-of-absence this past year. This year has given me a taste of what full-time retirement would be like.

I decided to continue this life. This is the first time in fifty years I have not had a job. I am not sure how I will spend my days, but I do know I will be reading, a lot. Perhaps I will even be writing a blog post or two. I’m excited to see where this retirement takes me.

17 thoughts on “A New Chapter

  1. Joyce says:

    Congratulations on this next chapter of your ever changing life.
    You have inspired so many w/your
    approach to problem solving and bringing those new ideas to the table. Thank you for making life easier so many times.ğŸŽ‰

  2. Congratulations on your retirement! It sounds like you have given so much to your community. I am in awe of teachers who are trained and implement Reading Recovery. I hope that you will continue to share your knowledge. Although I am nowhere near retirement, I have thought so much about the safety of schools throughout COVID. I cannot wait to read more about your new journey.

  3. I loved reading your history, Elsie. -Orange Julius! Haven’t thought of that in years! Delicious. Although COVID changed things for us all immeasurably, it is wonderful to have the choice to not return to work – a choice you have certainly earned after so many years of service. Exciting to think of all the reading and writing you’ll do – we will be the beneficiaries; you will still be teaching us. 🙂

  4. Mandy Robek says:

    Congratulations on this new journey and what a big decision! I enjoyed reading this time line of jobs – you loved them all in the moment I feel. Hugs.

  5. I know you can do it… and you’ll be terrific, because you have developed your loving people, walking, taking pictures and your reading and writing life. I had a similar group when I got my first teaching job. Love you friend xo

  6. Congratulations, Elsie! I know you will be busy. Now that I’ve transitioned from writing for teachers to writing for children, I’m busier than ever. But it is a lot of fun. Good luck on this new journey, wherever it may lead.

  7. Leigh Anne Eck says:

    Congratulations! I look forward to more Elsie posts!!
    I read something in a book recently about how finish lines are actually starting lines. One your mark…get set…GO!

  8. Phillip Van says:

    have been retired for ten years and can’t imagine how I had time for a job! am sure you will be kept busy tending to the needs of your house mate.

  9. This has been an incredibly difficult time. I can’t imagine trying to teach now. Retirement has been a blessing. I have adjusted after 6+ years of retirement. So much that I wanted to do I have finally been able to. May you find retirement a blessing and this new chapter be filled with what you want to achieve.

  10. Congrats on a new journey. I look forward to hearing more about the books you’re reading and seeing more blog posts and hearing what entices you along the way. It was fun to hear about the jobs you had before your teaching gig!

Thanks for taking time to comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.