Graduations are occurring even as I write this particular message. Generally, high school graduations and college/university graduations are the ones to come to mind first when one thinks of "graduation," but these days, there are graduations from kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school as well.
Graduations are all about transitions. One moves from one point in time and one phase in life to another, and the graduation ceremony--regardless of the level whether it be from kindergarten or a doctoral program--marks the moving from one phase into another. It is an exciting time for both the graduate and his/her family.
This is also the time of year, however, when another type of "graduation" is taking place within the ranks of my VEA colleagues, and that is retirement. In the same way that a graduation marks a transition, so does a retirement from one career into another or from full time work to full time leisure.
As president of the VEA, I often get invited to speak at retirement functions whether they be receptions or banquets, and it is one of my favorite things to do. I get to congratulate my association colleagues on a job well done. Whether they have spent just a few years teaching or working as a support professional in the public schools--or whether they have spent their entire adult lives dedicated to the profession--as they retire, they also transition from one way of life into another.
This message is intended specifically for them--the retirees who are celebrating the end of their school careers and are moving on into the next phase of their lives. Many of them are young enough that by the end of their lives, they may well have been retired from teaching longer than they ever taught.
So, if you are retiring this year, I hope for you that as you enter this new phase of your life--as you transition from the world of school into another new experience--that you do so with joy and anticipation. You have served your students and your colleagues with honor, dedication, and good humor (or you wouldn't have lasted long enough to actually retire) and now it is time to rest. Good luck to each of you. And please, don't be a stranger. Stay active in the VEA through the VEA-Retired group which is an active, vibrant and supportive element of our organization. We need you.