Reflecting on Helping Others by Meredith Johnson and friends

I worked with hundreds of teachers who retired – why did I so rarely wonder what they did with their lives once they were finished teaching? School administration can be all-encompassing, so my thoughts were usually focused on the next challenge rather than retiring co-workers. I remember being so thrilled when a retired teacher would appear in the school’s office area and I could inquire, “Is there really life after working in education?” They would smile and share with me that indeed there was. I would probe deeper and ask, “What do you do with your time?” Many times, they weren’t specific, which would puzzle me, and simply share that they were plenty busy each day. I remember sitting in administration meetings where details about our pending contract negotiations talks would include statistics about possible retirement benefits. I would wave my hands through the air and ask the men present if we couldn’t talk about something related to students as this discussion was boring. They would laugh and ask me if I wasn’t concerned about my own retirement benefits. “Oh, for goodness sakes, no, I am not. That won’t arrive until decades from now. Let’s talk about something interesting!” The years zoomed by at lightning speed and suddenly I was standing at the edge of beginning my own retirement.

When I was fortunate to have two weeks away from being at a school, I would quickly become bored and want to return. I thought this was what being retired would feel like, so I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. This month marks two years of retirement for me and I am content with how I am daily involved in education with a caring group of individuals on Twitter. Yesterday, one of the educators I had met on Twitter sent me soaring into space with a message she tweeted out.

From Cathleen Beachboard @CathleenBeachBd

Just wanted you to know I am dedicating my upcoming book to you. We are now in production to print. If it was not for you and allowing me to guest blog, I would not have had the courage. You didn’t know you made such a difference, but you did. Thank you, Meredith

It’s about student empowerment. I know you don’t know me very well Meredith but within the past 5 years, I’ve completely changed my practice in teaching. At one point in time, I was 285 lb and a student asked me to lose weight because he didn’t want me to die. So, my students help me to lose a ton of weight and through that journey, I discovered ways to empower students through service learning. The book will be coming out with Routledge publishing. It’s entitled 10 keys to student empowerment. However, I would never have had the guts to do it if I did not have the opportunity to do that guest blog post that I did for you. Even though it was a little thing you did for me it inspired me. It gave me the confidence to tell my story. I wanted to acknowledge you and even though it’s a small thing it’s my way of appreciating you. I just submitted the entire manuscript for publication today. Today I start the book publication process. However, as I go through it, I will keep you updated. Thank you for being awesome.

Can you imagine how thrilled I was? Then today, I receive the following tweet from Bridget Gengler @BridgetGengler

blog post 6-6-19 2

The exchange begins with me asking the question, “Who do you think believes in you each day?” Bridget responded, “Oh! So many people .. my husband, first and foremost. My family and close friends push me each day, Just as I believe in my students, they believe in me. They cheer me on every day. We need those people in our lives just like our students do.” Then I continued the conversation by adding Adam Welcome’s graphic. Bridget closes out the exchange by sharing that she considers me one of her “pushers!” What an absolute honor!

coaches who push and encourage

These are the discussions that make my day! I may not walk the hallways of school buildings any longer, but I am thankful to have found a way to continue in helping others.

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Meredith Johnson