Staying active after retirement

The sole purpose of my blog is to promote “healthy aging,” and to highlight issues that may in some ways positively impact my readers.

For many people, retirement is considered a reward for enduring decades of daily work. It is a time to relax, spend more time with family, indulge in a few hobbies, and explore. For others, retirement could come with a cloud of uncertainty, and marked by depression, declining health and physical limitations.

Throughout my research on the social, biological, and psychological aspects of aging, I have discovered that there are some valid tips on how to maintain good mental and physical health after retirement. The National Institute on Aging has published conclusive data on this topic. Some of the tips suggest that you should eat nutritious meals, engage in moderate exercise, stay socially connected, limit your alcohol consumption, and get plenty of rest. My personal belief is that maintaining good mental and physical health begins with clearing your mind of negative thoughts.  Namaste ~ Vee Bright

“He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition, youth and age are equally a burden.” Plato (427-346 B.C.)

Retired OPRFHS teacher Norbert Teclaw shares fond memories, advice, and a glimpse of his life after retirement.

I came to OPRFHS from an idyllic community where I had a home on the lake, and in my third year of teaching. It was Lou Fritzmeyer who had heard about my achievements at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and he subsequently interviewed me for a teaching position at OPRFHS. Intimidation is the one word that best comes to mind when I think of my early years. My values appeared to be so much different than those of my students and of the community, since my background was rural. Lou must have seen something in me that he appreciated and I was counting on that to carry me through my very early years at OPRFHS.

It was Sputnik that gave me my real break in teaching. The National Science Foundation, made it possible to compete with Russia, and therefore I enhanced my science teaching skills by earning my Master’s Degree in 1968. This also placed me on Standby Reserve status and relieving me of any military service. This “gift” so to speak energized my commitment to teaching and building a science curriculum that was both relevant and enjoyable for my students.

My first letter of recommendation was for a physical science student who was enlisting in the Army Engineering Corp. It was at this time, that I recognized that this wasn’t only about my role as a science teacher, but also about being supportive of my student’s choices. Another eye opening experience occurred during my second year of teaching, which gave me another glimpse at my role as a teacher. I walked into my classroom afterschool and found one of my students crying. A quick question brought me to the gist of her concerns. This student was somehow being pressured by a group of her friends. Clearly, this was not about science, but it was about supporting the courage of this student to make a tough choice.

Teaching became a life of increasing facets. Never mind overcoming the idiosyncrasies of teaching; I was not above standing on my head on the demonstration desk to get student’s attention. Engaging students provided the equal exchange of my science for the reality of their lives. I discovered that making learning interesting was the key to student interaction even as I grew older. This understanding made it possible for me work with students in Open Hand, an early Student Human Relations Club or the Club on Ethics that sponsored the annual event with Fenwick and Trinity High School.

My advice to future educators

Be aware of how you were raised. Be particularly aware of brain sciences and how that comes to bear on your own learning and that of your students. For example, everything outside of you is a map of what is within. An indication of this is when we find a place where we intuitively know something exists, but we have no map. Today, that place in known. This is more than just a philosophical story.

My transition to other things upon Retirement

I have had the fortunate experience of being able to transition back into the classroom. I became a director and later a team member of an alternative high school called The Experimental Program at OPRFHS. This program allowed each student’s curriculum to encompass their particular interests. It was a great time, I bonded with these students, and I remember them fondly. The last six years allowed be to become acquainted with the “regular school” as we called it. Upon retirement I became the Volunteer Coordinator for the high school where parents and other volunteers provided 2500 hours of direct service to the classroom.  Other enlightening experiences include teaching three semesters at DePaul University, and I managing the Triton College Evening Program at OPRFHS. This gave me a chance to work with adults on a professional level.

Post Retirement

After my retirement from OPRFHS I became the president of the Midwest Center for Citizen Initiatives (MCC.). It was a part of a larger organization in San Francisco. We trained business consultants who were sent to Russia to teach business courses and recruit thirty Russians each time to be placed in a similar business as their own. MCCI then found housing for each of the Russians. After their thirty days were up, the Russians returned and became Russian Business Fellows to recruit additional Russians for our U.S. program. This program ended in 1996 when the Aid to International Development program to Russia ended. Being a part of this program tested all of my skills to be of service to MCCI.

Just as I was ending my work at Triton College an opportunity to host a celebration for the Centennial Birth of Dr. Percy Julian was made available to me. Joan Bowman, Percy Julian’ personal secretary wrote a letter in the Wednesday Journal asking that someone begin the preparations for the Dr. Percy Julian Celebration. When I realized that no planning was in the works, I decided to find a group of people who would serve as the planning committee. We raised enough money and sold tickets for a banquet at the old Mar Lac House. The money left over went to create and cast a bust of Dr. Julian now placed next to the Library entrance in Scoville Park. A copy of the bust is also placed at Depauw University where Percy did his seminal work. I thought that this would end my work with the memory of Dr. Julian family ensconced by me and a host of others in Oak Park until I happened to actually meet Joan Bowman. Joan Bowman made it impossible for me to say no to her request for me to continue to honor the life of Dr. Julian. The celebration committee became the board for the non-profit, Institute for Science Education and Technology (ISET.) We were more than willing to help and on November 2007 we hosted a national showing of the NOVA production “Forgotten Genius” at Percy Julian Middle School. My former colleagues and contacts from OPRFHS came in handy as the high school became the host institution for the Percy Julian Symposium. We have just completed our Fourteenth Annual Percy Julian Symposium, a high school science research competition where we organize students from a variety of schools to compete in science, technology and mathematics. As recently noted, this year’s competition winners included many of OPRFHS students. As you can see, my transition into retirement from teaching was quite gradual and natural, so much so that I often do not feel that I am fully retired, but still in transition.

Leisure and Activity

My wife Nancy and I have traveled to Russia, the Caribbean, and we have traveled with the Oak Park and River Forest Rotary Club, to assist in their projects in South America.  Norbert Teclaw

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Vee Bright is a Gerontology Consultant who specializes in health promotion and self-care. Her motto is that "it's never too early to make healthy lifestyle choices, start planning for longevity today."...

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