Retirees Can Help the Schools

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia has 132 school divisions.

I don’t pretend to know what each has done to address the monumental task of teaching kids who have been at varying levels disconnected from the educational system for 18 months.

But I offer a suggestion that some may already be using: seek the assistance — as volunteers or temporary employees — of retirees.

These may include: (1) retired teachers; (2) retirees with some teaching experience and verified subject matter expertise in high-need specialties; and (3) those with special staff qualifications.

Such an initiative will have to be managed carefully and well to ensure the experience is efficient and effective for both the children and the adults and the schools can access the rules relatively easily.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will need to clear the way by organizing and publishing state licensing guidance.

State licensing authorities including VDOE and the Virginia Department of Health Professions will need to weigh in on what retirees may do to assist.

I suggest VDOE coordinate the state licensing policy statements for in person and remote assistance by retirees and put them online in one spot for access by the schools. I further suggest they do that as a matter of some urgency.

The recruiting can then best be done by school districts and the principals and staff of individual schools.

Many of us would be glad to assist if asked and provided a organized pathway to provide support. Those with health concerns can offer to support from home.

Distance teaching will differ now in one critical way compared to what happened in the last 18 months. The kids will be in controlled environments. They won’t be sitting at home with microphones muted and cameras turned off.

This can be done with full classes, but need not be to be helpful.

I mentioned my enjoyable and successful experience as a volunteer providing remedial math assistance to small groups of 4th and 5th graders for several years. With today’s technology, I would not have to have been sitting there as long as I could see the kids on camera.

Retired special staff — nurses, school psychologists, counselors and others also can offer highly valuable assistance.  If the technology and facilities are available and the licensing authorities permit, they may be able to provide direct assistance to students. If not, they may be willing to consult with onsite professionals in select cases and help with their administrative workloads.

It is not too late for a scaled up retiree support option, perhaps beginning in a large scale way in the second semester and next year. It is certainly worth a try.

Never underestimate the willingness of people to help in a crisis.

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11 responses to “Retirees Can Help the Schools”

  1. Mike Carolyn Ferguson Avatar
    Mike Carolyn Ferguson

    How DARE you muddle this conversation/topic with logic?<—sarcasm font!! Great ideas!

  2. John Martin Avatar
    John Martin

    You underestimate the expertise and the dedication that is in our schools

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      How so? My target was getting VDOE to help, not individual schools.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      How so? My target was getting VDOE to help, not individual schools.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Retirees? So, mostly over 60? I suppose if you restrict them to 16+, vaccinated, and masked.

  4. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    When I retired from state employment, I applied for a job as an aide in a Chesterfield County School. I was hired, but then I learned I would lose my state pension if I took the job, so I had to decline.

    The aide job barely paid $20K annually. I understand preventing “double-dipping,” but these aide jobs are relatively hard to fill with few substitutes willing to take them for daily absences. I have always thought that the pension laws should be changed allowing state retirees to take school system jobs paying under $25K (or some fair figure) without losing their pensions.

    It might be a small population that would be eligible for this type of program, but nowadays employers are fighting for every possible qualified applicant.

    Now I substitute teach from time to time, basically “babysitting,” when I could probably make a real impact as an aide who is there for the students every day.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Your situation is an example of a waiver that could be applied.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      So my wife just works for free….Spent several weeks this summer as an aide with a summer program. Not sure whether she will be helping this fall at the local elementary or at the private school where my grandkids fled to last year. The problem that developed over the summer was her work direct with kids was restricted as the cases rose. I am 110% sure this is purely a liability issue, as they fear a volunteer outside their insurance getting sick and filing suit. Virginia remains uninterested in providing any safe harbors against liability (the trial lawyers and unions who give so much money would whine….)

  5. Paul Sweet Avatar
    Paul Sweet

    As far as I know you can still work for a state agency or school system under VRS and not lose your pension as long as the position doesn’t have state benefits.

  6. Buck Overton Avatar
    Buck Overton

    Great idea with one obstacle that I see: VDOE would likely require that they get the now-requisite brain re-programming (i.e. equity and white-people-are-bad) .

  7. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    Missed this article but I hear Ffx is deleting Engineering elective that a lot of kids liked, perhaps an area retirees may help.

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