Retirement Pencil

Si, Vale La Pena (Yes, It’s Worth The While)

Jose 1 Comment

Retirement Pencil

Retirement Pencil

Last week, at least officially, a great man and teacher retired from the NYC public school systems. I think about him, and the others who’ve retired from my school (at least the ones who we’ve celebrated), and even the one who died early last academic year, a year removed from retirement, too. They leave a lingering memory, a charisma about them, and an undeniable care and work ethic for their job that those of us less divine must respond to in awe.

But I’m a bit of a hater; why would I ever let legends off that easy?

For 2 of these teachers (both alive), I became their honorary roastmasters, researching their worst and lewd stories in the hopes of embarrassing the bejeezus out of them so they’d stay retired. The first, I roasted him on the fact that we had all this back and forth sarcastic banter, and one day, he got me so good, I couldn’t say anything. So naturally, I plotted on him. I researched a little about his old principals, eavesdropped on a few of his conversations, and practiced his mannerisms in my imagination for a good 5 months. When the time came, I could almost hear the roof shaking from how delighted and pissed this teacher was.

The other teacher was harder to do research for because he had such a sterling record … until I saw him in action during the school parties. He was a ladies man through and through. A Vietnam vet, a self-published author, and a Yankees fan, he inspired one of my best roasts in my entire life. After reading it at (you guessed it) an Irish pub, I could literally see his face go from peach to red from the shame and shock of my research.

And they wholeheartedly deserve this sort of treatment. After all, if some0ne’s been doing something well for 23+ years, and even after I try to find the most horrid and sordid stories about that person, all anyone can ever tell me is how sweet, gentle, funny, and awesome that person is, administration and teachers alike, then that person merits having a whole poem dedicated to the worst parts of them since there’s so little out there about them. I know a fair amount of teachers who never come prepared to class, never care to plan anything, have a disdain for the kids, read the newspaper or check their smartphones for random nonsense while the kids get busy work, only pretend to teach by simply standing in front of the classroom, act like they didn’t even have a class until you show them their program, and get paid more than 90% of the staff in the school, sucking up salary and make our union look bad, frankly.

Great teachers aren’t that. They’re the antithesis of that. When they retire, they’re not tired. They’ve earned that right to finally think about themselves. Not that the rest of us don’t have the right already, but these altruistic veterans should be allowed to retire gracefully. And by gracefully, I mean let me roast the hell out of them.

It means we care.

Mr. V, who would love to share those poems but their friends and families would never look at these men the same …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonSi, Vale La Pena (Yes, It’s Worth The While)

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