Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Boomers leaving schools and a void
May 30. 2006
Members of the 76 million-strong baby boomer generation who have made waves at every milestone are about to make another as they retire en masse.
The tides will be strong in Florida's schools, where 40 percent of teachers are over the age of 46. There are also baby boomer administrators, custodians, receptionists and countless other school staff nearing the end of their careers.
Elementary school teachers Allen and Ann Amos, who are husband and wife, are a pair with grand plans for their retirement. This summer, they're going to West Virginia to take Irish dancing lessons. Then they plan to travel to Ireland, and they're considering checking out Czechoslovakia, Rome and England while they're at it.
"I've taught 35 years and she's taught 30, so it's time for a break," said Allen Amos, 58, who's a second-grade teacher at Wiles Elementary School. During his career, he's taught every elementary grade level.
A lot of America's baby boomers are thinking that way, which may mean the retirements are as much a solution as they are a problem in Florida. Many retirees are expected to move south and return to work in the Sunshine State.
"It happens quite a bit, actually," said Wayne Blanton, president of the Florida School Boards Association. "We're very fortunate in that a lot of people want to retire to Florida."
Still, baby boomers will eventually leave for good, making a nationwide teacher shortage even worse. With Florida's notoriously low teacher salaries and low teacher retention, there's a concern among some that the next generation of the state's teachers won't have the charisma of their predecessors.
"I don't think the young ones are as patient or as dedicated," said Carolyn Isaac, 59. "We do have some very new, very dedicated teachers, but a lot of them are not. They go into it just because it's a job, and they switch careers a lot."
She isn't the only one worried.
Cynthia Mingo, a retiring Prairie View Academy teacher born two years before the baby boomers, fears for newer teachers who haven't experienced what teaching was like before the focus on testing and paperwork took hold.
The fourth-grade teacher said it's important to remember to make learning fun despite all the pressure and to tune in to children's holistic needs. Mingo learned that lesson early in her career, when she came out of maternity leave to take over a distraught class whose teacher died during school one day.
"We've got to make sure our children stay tuned in and feel happy about learning," she said. Fighting tears, she added, "Even though I've been doing it for 30 years, I'm still excited about teaching. I worked my heart out. It was something I loved doing, and I gave it everything I had."
Lake Forest Elementary School's Martha Olvera, a retiring teacher in the deaf and hard of hearing program, is optimistic about future teachers.
"There will be a great deal of knowledge and experience lacking (in schools), but there will be a wealth of enthusiasm," she said. "It's true testing has brought on a good deal of pressure, but good teachers have always put themselves under a kind of pressure anyway."
She said future teachers need to remember three things: to "understand we're all in this together" with parents and administrators; to be consistent and loving; and to know what they're talking about.
"I think teaching is a marvelous career if you love children and you want to make the world a better place," she said.
It's so marvelous, in fact, that Olvera, 60, plans to hold true to her baby boomer energy and return to work as soon as she's settled into the new home she's moving to in Alabama.
"I've been a teacher for 35 years and I've never been bored a day in my life," she said. "Teaching may be a lot of things, but it's never boring."
Altogether, about a third of Florida's teachers are expected to retire in the next five years.
Monday, May 29, 2006
I saw my grandmother this weekend for Memorial Day, and she said I don't update my blog very often. To this I said, "yes I.......don't." Okay, so sue me. I don't update as often as I should. Sorry. I really have been very busy.
Beginning of last week, Mike and I went to Clermont so Mike could work with my dad for a few days. This was good for him, but it was especially good for me because I got to meet with the head of the Teacher Certification Program offered by Lake Sumter Community College, and she was very helpful. It looks like this is what I'm going to shoot for. They offer a 6-month program where you go Friday night and Saturday morning, and it's the equivalent of taking one graduate class a month - pretty intensive. Apparently the state of Florida REALLY needs teachers right now, because the lady told me not to be surprised if I get offered temporary certification to teach while I'm taking my classes, which intimidates me to no end. I think those kids would chew me up and spit me out at this point, but I look forward to having enough training to get into the classroom someday.
The next day my mom and I went to the school she volunteers and substitutes at, and I got to see a few kindergarten teachers in action. I never thought about teaching kids that young, but I really felt a connection with them. So we shall see.
While we were in Clermont we also researched where we could live after we're done with school. I always figured Leesburg, but it turns out the new compost facility Mike will be working at is actually in Okahumpka, where houses are a LOT more reasonable. There's also several more grease spots that are possibilities, like Center Hill and Sumterville. So it looks like we're going to have to be a lot bigger rednecks than we originally thought. This should be fun!
The Last Stand...or is it?
Mike and I saw X-Men III today, and it was pretty gol' darn good. They make you think it's the last in the series, but the end is one heck of a cliffhanger, so maybe we haven't seen the last of the mutants. I hope they at least do a Wolverine spinoff.
And lastly, blogger is behaving this time, so here's a picture of my groom for your viewing pleasure. I hope everyone is doing well.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
So I thought that once school was over I'd have more time to update this thing. I think not. This week has been more frustrating than busy, and it's funny how much frustration can hinder your productivity. Last week my main goal after getting back from camping was to figure out what the heck I'm going to be doing this summer. So I've been calling people and asking questions and getting...nowhere. Surprise, surprise, nobody at UF knows anything. Then this morning, a breakthrough. I finally got to talk to a career counselor, and she gave me some info to get me started. It looks as though my best bet at this moment is to research the Teacher Certification Program offered by Lake Sumter Community College, because that's where Mike and I will be moving after I graduate. Then I may be able to either seek further training and become a Reading Specialist, or I can be a reading tutor privately or at a place like Sylvan Learning Center. Progress feels great!
Saturday, Mike and I took a big step towards becoming certified rednecks, which is essential if we're planning on living in Leesburg. We went garage sale hunting, then we went to the Newberry Watermelon Festival. And oh my goodness gracious, Bill Engvall was right. If you ever want to feel better about your own family, go to a county fair. We saw more mullets than if you were to go to a Super Wal-Mart in Chiefland at 2 in the morning (not that I know anything about that...) After hearing the Watermelon Crawl 50 times and trying a Deep-Fried Oreo (pretty darn tasty!), Mike wanted to go to the music store to check out a guitar he was considering buying with his graduation money. An hour later, he walked out with a completely different guitar. To read more about that, go here .
So now you know what's been happening. We also got one of those laser pointers that they make for cats, so we've been laughing it up over that. Who needs cable TV when you have a 10-week old kitten? The funny thing is, the dog chases after it, too. And she doesn't have the grace of a cat. Blogger isn't letting me post pictures at the moment, so sorry, no wedding picture. Later!
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Well, I survived. I actually managed to have fun, too. We went to Manatee Springs in Chiefland, Florida, about 45 minutes away from Gainesville. We left Monday morning after dropping the dog off at the vet's office, then set up camp and decided to go swimming in the Spring. The funniest thing happened, though. We were headed for the spring and we passed the people about 3 sites down from us, and I said, "that looks a lot like Chuck Wise," who is the youth director at our church. And guess what...it was!! He and his wife Gail were celebrating their 35th anniversary, so we had dinner with them last night. Early Tuesday morning it rained and stormed for about an hour and a half, which made me a little nervous. Mike barely even woke up, though. I guess he's been through a lot worse than that, with worse equipment. It didn't even get wet inside the tent. So it was nice to get away from everything. And Mike's graduation present finally came in the mail, so he'll be getting that tonight, bwahaha.... I'll let you guys know what it is as soon as he finds out. Later.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Yesterday was a crazy day for us. Mike graduated with his Bachelor's Degree, so we sat through the 2 and a half hour ceremony, then went to our friends the Looneys for a party in his honor. Marilyn was a very gracious hostess and it was so much better than going to a restaurant. Mike will be working for my dad from now on, as well as going to school for another year to get his Masters in Business Management. While he's doing that, I'll be finishing my last year of college, then it's off to Leesburg (or somewhere close) to start working on my dad's "retirement plan," which consists of teaching Mike to eventually take over the business. Very exciting :)
I got my last grade in my Florida Wildlife class, and I got an A, so that makes 3 A's and a B+. I can live with that. Tomorrow we're going camping until Wednesday, so we've been packing all day. This is the first time I can remember that I've been tent camping, so I'm glad to have Mike the Eagle Scout with me. There are pictures of me taking a bath in a dish tub as a baby, and apparently I haven't been tent camping since then, so it'll be fun. Interesting, anyway.
Now for the wedding picture of the day:
This is Mike with the his mother, Phyllis, and her father, Harold - better known to us as Granddaddy. We love Granddaddy very much, not just because he is helping us out with Mike's graduate school, but because he is a life lesson in faith and love. He came down from Georgia for Mike's graduation this weekend. This month marks one year since the death of his wife, and although I only met her once, I know the depth of love he did and still has for her. I was teasing him this weekend (he started it!) and I said, "Granddaddy, if only I'd met you first, I might be married to a different man," and he told me, "No, I picked out my bride a long time ago." ~sniff~ If he knew how to get on the Internet he'd be very excited to be a "celebrity" now that his picture is up.
J-Wo out. See ya'll later.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
This has been a whirlwind of a week! I had my last exam today, and so far my grades are:
Behavioral Psychology: A
Cognitive Psychology: B+
Psychology of Eating Disorders: A
So I'm just waiting to find out what I got on the Florida Wildlife exam today. Now that this semester is over, I have to figure out what the heck I'm doing this summer. Mike has his whole, like, CAREER planned, and I'm still deciding what to do...now. Sigh. Well, at least I have some direction now. I think I want to do something with reading and kids, and apparently there's a big need for teachers in Lake County, so that means...reading teacher? Perhaps?
So that's pretty much it. I'll leave you with a wedding picture.
I like this picture because it seems so reminiscent of the Florida lifestyle, with the porch and the bare feet and all.
All for now,