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Where Teaching is an Art

When Elizabeth (Liz) Trujillo retired from teaching third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders, she knew that she wanted to explore her interests in history and the arts. And living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she was surrounded by history and arts—but she still wasn’t sure how she would get involved until she came across the opportunity to become a docent at the then recently opened Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.

“Santa Fe has a very rich art environment with wonderful galleries and museums and it seemed natural to go into some area of the arts community,” Trujillo says. 

The museum that Trujillo volunteers at contains over 3,000 Spanish colonial artifacts, including everything from ironwork to textiles to furniture. As a docent, Trujillo works closely with the curator of education to lead informative guided tours through the museum. She also jumps on the museum’s events and workshops, such as lessons in carving and straw appliqué.

“I love being among the artifacts that have been collected since 1925. It’s wonderful to see the artwork from the colonial period, and to meet artists who are still practicing the craft.”

Trujillo appreciates teaching in a new setting and hopes that  museum visitors leave with a new understanding of the importance of the early Spanish colonists and their impact on the continent. 

Trujillo encourages other retirees who appreciate art and history to inquire about docent positions in their communities.

“Museums around the country are struggling for funding in our economy and are always looking for dedicated volunteers. Nearly every museum has a docent program,” she says. 

—Jazzy Wright

Just Like Old Times…

When Patti Lochner of Fort Meyers, Florida, retired in 2006, it did not take her long to realize that she really wanted to be back in the classroom. “I missed seeing my students catch on and learn. I missed seeing that light bulb turn on,” Lochner says.

Lochner soon took up substitute teaching only at Colonial Elementary School, the same school where she taught kindergarten for 40 years. Now, she teaches kindergarten through fifth grade, as well as special education and Head Start, when a teacher is out.

“The school asks me to come in because I know the routine and I care about the kids. They know they can call me,” she says.

Lochner says she has enjoyed adjusting to substitute teaching because she is in charge of her teaching schedule. She also feels she can relate to the students in ways other substitutes cannot. 

“I have control over the classroom because I have that experience, plus the students know me. It’s a different experience for substitutes who have not been there—a little more difficult.”

In addition to teaching, Lochner stays busy with political advocacy work. She is serving as chair of her school district’s Curriculum Advisory Committee, as well as on the Florida Education Association executive cabinet.  As a member of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, Lochner also lobbies for public education.

“I’m living out my dreams by being involved with NEA. I’ve had the best of both worlds I’ve been able to watch the kids grow and pick up my political science work,” she says.

—Jazzy Wright


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