Thoughts on Retirement

After 30 years as an educator, in 2002, I retired from teaching in Texas. I taught high school English and coached eight to ten University Interscholastic League events, getting up at 5:30 a.m. to travel to practice competitions on my weekends (often getting home around midnight)—it was hard to keep up.

Over the course of those years, I was the curriculum coordinator, worked with special programs, and was instrumental in writing our site-based plan and getting our gifted/talented program in compliance. I also spent a good deal of time dreading the District Effectiveness and Compliance (DEC) visit.

Being knowledgeable about programs, Texas Education Agency mandates, the TEKS, TAKS, and Essential Elements (some non-essential elements) required spending several days each month at the Education Service Center where I was a “student.” Being good at my job was time-consuming, and it wasn’t easy.

But nothing I did was as important to me as teaching my students. I loved teaching English—from eighth-grade writing to twelfth-grade dual credit. Put me in a classroom, and I find my voice. Working with students, either in class or coaching UIL, taught me so much about teaching, coaching, and caring.

My goal when I started my career was to teach subject matter. I knew I didn’t want to get too invested in individual students. But when I looked at them, heard them speak, learned about them, cried with them, and laughed with them, I was hooked.

When I walked for the last time through those two big plated glass doors, I felt relieved, but not happy. It was easy to let go of all the expectations and to-do lists; it was much harder to say goodbye to the students I cared so deeply about.

Jolly Ann Ellis taught high school and college English and sponsored literary UIL. She is now the president of the Seguin-Guadalupe County Friends of the Library, a member of Delphian Study Club, and an avid bridge player.

Views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of ATPE.

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Amber (Herro) Austin Posted On: May 15, 2015
You not only found your voice in the classroom, you helped us find ours. I'm a great public speaker thanks to the hours you lovingly dedicated to coaching me (tough love also counts). Thank you for the impact you made on my life!

Barbara Seger Posted On: May 14, 2015
I was so blessed to have worked with her, have her coach my child and call her my friend.

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