A number of posts ago, Mrs. C. asked me when I was going to retire. Well, she asked for it, so she's going to get it.
I have been paying into Minnesota's TRA for more than 34 years now. This state has a rule of 90, so as of last December, I could have hung up the chalk and begun collecting full retirement benefits. The Warroad School District, however has a rather attractive twenty year package, and since I spent my first fifteen years in a different district, last year was only my nineteenth here. This is my twentieth. So that must mean that I'll be hanging it up at the end of this school year, right? Well, not so fast.
My main problem is that I have few hobbies. Warroad is the hunting and fishing capital of the world, but I don't do either of those things. I used to play golf, but I haven't done that in four years. I am a reader, but I don't want to read all day; I am a blogger, but that's not something I want to spend much more time on than I am now; I love sports, but I have trouble sitting still for a full game unless I'm involved in some way.
In fact, my favorite hobby has probably been school. I live one block from the high school, and I've got keys to everything, so whenever I get a little bored, I walk up to the school and start putzing around. The other hobbies that I have--a lot of the reading I do, the blogging--are also related to school. I know people who have retired and loved it, but I've also known people who have been bored stiff. I don't wish to join them. The bottom line is that teaching and coaching have been my life. I've loved doing them, and I don't know what I'd do without them.
Warroad was a great place for my wife and me to bring our kids when they were teenagers, but those days are long gone. Our oldest son lives in the Twin Cities which is six-and-a-half hours away, our youngest lives in Orlando, Florida, and our middle son lives with his wife in Moline, Illinois, and they are at the stage where they are looking to start a family. We would like to be able to see our kids a lot more often than we can now.
After the new year roles around, and as our hockey season begins to wind down, I will begin to look for social studies teaching jobs in the Iowa/Illinois area. I hope you won't think I'm a hypocrite when I say that I would be more than happy to accept a job in a private school--maybe a small Catholic school. Since I would be able to collect my TRA, I wouldn't need a huge salary. It's not that I'm giving up on public schools, but after my experience of moving from Mt. Iron to Warroad, I know how hard it can be to be a first-year teacher in a public school--establishing discipline, establishing a reputation, etc. It ain't easy! If I was in my thirties, that would be one thing, but I'm 57, so I really don't want to go through that again. Teaching at a private school, where they don't have to put up with some of the behaviors that public schools do, sounds pretty good.
As good as that sounds to me, I am painfully aware that schools probably won't be falling all over themselves in competition to hire a 58-year-old social studies guy. That leads to option number two. Minnesota now allows a teacher to collect TRA and earn up to $40 thousand teaching in the state. That means that if my school district was willing to hire me as a four-sevenths teacher, I could teach two less classes, have two fewer preps, and earn more money. That is a very attractive option. In my last post I did a little whining about my workload this year. I think it would be wonderful to teach four hours a day. What a great job a person would be able to do by focusing on fewer classes and fewer kids! This would also enable me to stay in hockey coaching, which would also be a lot more fun because of the lighter teaching load. Since my first year or two in Warroad, I have always felt valued here, and I would not have to adjust to new kids, a new community, new classes, and a new school.
The problem with this plan is that it would have to work out for my school. That is something I will have to talk to my principal and superintendent about. If it's something that can't be worked out, that leads to option number three. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. I guess I can live with that one, too.