Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Working Retired Part 2: Building a Bridge to Retirement

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Working Retired Part 2: Building a Bridge to Retirement

Article excerpt

IN my May/June column we heard from media specialists who are refocused and recharged in their second careers. They are busy with writing, speaking, online teaching, consulting, and multimedia production. In Part 2 we will learn how these accomplished people built a bridge to retirement and what they have to say about all they've learned in their new careers.


Active membership in a professional media organization is key to building that bridge to retirement. The former media specialists interviewed for this article were involved in their state professional organizations while they were fully employed; many were also active nationally. They served as committee chairs and state officers and held many leadership posts vital to establishing contacts and acquiring skills and attitudes that help them now. Most importantly, they established contacts and made relationships with people they now work with in their new careers. Sharron McElmeel, online instructor, author, and speaker, wrote, "So all the while I was building my public school career as a library media specialist, I was also planting the seeds of what was to come-I used my research skills to expand my personal goals of building a nation of readers, one family, one community, one state at a time. So for twenty plus years I have been doing what I am doing now-only in different proportions."

Pam Cheskeys multifaceted positions in the New Jersey Association of School Librarians helped her get started in a rewarding new career. "About two months before my retirement was to take effect, I received a call from Dr. Carol Kuhlthau asking if I would be interested in working with Rutger's University School of Communication, Information and Library Studies ... Of course I did not hesitate to say yes. This is the dream job for a school library media specialist," she noted. Cheskey's professional contacts have helped her reach out for support in setting goals for the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL) at Rutgers and establish partnerships within the library world in New Jersey as well as other states. Gail Petri's dream job with the Library of Congress began with contacts she made as an American Memory Fellow.

Deb Kachel and Ann Bell began teaching in online programs while fully employed in K-12 education. Kachel decided to retire when Mansfield University "was asking me to do more and there didn't seem to be enough hours in the days. I felt like I was working two jobs; after 33 years in the school district, I decided that I wanted the freedom to do the jobs I wanted to do and could do while I still had the drive, skills, and good health." Bell started online teaching in baby steps; she decided to expand her online role once she had retired and had more time. "As soon as I retired, I proposed a new class" that will first be offered in the summer semester, she notes. It never hurts to proactively share your ideas for future employment.

Relations in the community can help pave the way to jobs at local colleges and universities as instructors in colleges of education or instructors in custom training programs at technical colleges. Established associations with museums can also lead to second careers. Walt, a former science teacher who also has a degree in school media, works as a cataloger archivist for our county historical society.

Virtual connections through discussion groups, such as LM_NET blogs (, or social networking sites, such as TeacherLibrarianNing (http://, offer exciting possibilities for establishing relationships. A virtual presence keeps you in touch and lets others know that you are there. Keep your resume and vitae current. My online teaching career began with a brief contact on LM_NET. We never know what opportunities exist!


Practicing these skills while still working as a school media specialist helps build bridges to retirement. …

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